The quest for long-term energy supplies is becoming a matter of increasing regional competition with secure access to oil and gas a matter of national strategic consideration. Energy-hungry economies in East and South Asia are highly dependent on imported oil and gas to fuel economic growth and are acting to secure long-term energy supplies. However, the environmental challenges related to climate change and human security, as well as rising energy costs, have affected how these Asian governments regard the use of conventional hydrocarbon energy resources. Meanwhile, Russia and the Central Asian states have a significant proportion of the world's primary energy resources and are looking for ways to increase such exports to expand and diversify into new markets in Asia and Europe.
Energy policy deserves particular attention because a better grasp of the energy security rationale of the various Asian actors would enable us to better understand Asia's regional and sub-regional political dynamics. This project analyzes the foreign and security implications resulting from the energy strategies of the various import and export governments. For import countries, energy security traditionally refers to the availability of energy at all times, in various forms, in sufficient quantities, and at affordable prices. For export countries, energy security traditionally translates into the certainty of market demand in terms of quantity at predictable prices. This project also examines, within the theoretical and policy contexts, the extent to which this ever-growing regional concern could create opportunities for greater bilateral and multilateral cooperation and common benefit. Such developments could create permanent relations of mutual engagement and cooperative interdependence, and help mitigate the potential of conflict in this region.
The value of this research lies in the potential application of the research findings in promoting regional stability through multilateral cooperation at a time when countries are facing growing energy scarcity in the face of increasing and competing energy demands. The project would tap the opinions of scholars and policy-makers from the Central, South, and Northeast and Southeast sub-regions in order to produce recommendations that would be politically acceptable and of practical application.
The Institute for Security and Development Policy, which is based in Northern Europe, is in an exceptional position to conduct such research because it is perceived to be a non-threatening outsider for Asian governments. It is therefore able to create a neutral and conducive environment and attract illustrious scholars and policy-makers from these regions to engage and collaborate on the issue of energy security in a constructive manner.
On a general level, the result of this research also has wide appeal outside conflict management circles because of its implications on the environment, economic, social and security concerns which are of academic, political and commercial interest.
The main issues explored are:
- The uncertainties related to energy supplies for energy importing countries
- The interaction between exporting and importing countries, and the rivalry between importing states for supplies
- Attitudes and strategies of governments towards renewable energy and sustainable development
- The possibility of transforming an issue that could potentially cause friction into one of opportunity for multilateral cooperation and common benefit.