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Pact Paves Way For Shared Trans-regional Power Grid

Aug 24 2007 (TODAY)

Energy ministers from the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean)
yesterday took a concrete step towards ensuring the 10-member group is
more plugged in.

Meeting in Singapore for a day to review Asean-wide developments in the
power sector, they agreed to conclude a memorandum of understanding that
will, in time, help to bolt together the region's different transmission

The agreement should pave the way for establishing what is known as the
Asean Power Grid, which could help countries share electricity across
borders, boosting growth and providing greater security for consumers.

"While the development of a fully integrated Asean energy market is a
still distant goal and will be a very long process, we have started to
move in the right direction," said Professor S Jayakumar, Singapore's
deputy prime minister. Yesterday's memorandum "provides the essential
framework for us to bring the project forward", he said.

To date, the bloc has only two cross-border power connections: between
Thailand and Malaysia, and between Malaysia and Singapore. Architects of
the ambitious project hope the trans-regional grid could see a web of
connections across Asean, switching power between nations that have
abundant energy, to those that are in need.

"The agreement is a critical first stepÂ…it shows that there is government
support for the initiative," said Mr S. Isawaran, Singapore's minister of
state for trade and industry.

When the project takes off, he added, the next stage would be to identify
areas where the private sector can come in.

The ministers also noted progress in the finalising of a new Asean
Petroleum Security Agreement, which is seen as an important mechanism to
deal with petroleum shortages. They hoped to sign the pact next year,
replacing the 1986 agreement. - Sharon Vasoo and Jason Lee

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