What we took away from Gastech and the road ahead for Asia

– by Paul Everingham

Singapore is a very busy energy hub year-round but for four days in early September activity was even more hectic than usual. 

The fact that 44,957 people attended Gastech 2023 – a new record – speaks volumes for Singapore’s standing in the energy world, the tireless work of event organisers and the overwhelming level of global interest in Asian energy transition. 

From the perspective of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (ANGEA), Gastech offered an excellent opportunity for our board to meet in person, for our team to spend time with key stakeholders (new and existing) and to grow wider understanding of what ANGEA does. 

There were some very clear takeaways from Gastech 2023: 

1. Gas is here for the long haul 

Momentum around this has been building for some time but large industry events over the past few months – including Gastech, LNG2023 and Energy Asia in Malaysia – have made it very clear that the role of natural gas in energy transition is going to be long-lasting. Gas is a foundational fuel not merely a transitional one and it will be required to underpin increasing investment in renewable energy around the world for decades to come. 

As identified by the recent Rystad Study Into Energy Security in Southeast Asia, natural gas is the energy source best suited to support credible transition in Asia. The challenge now is to ensure enough future supply comes online at affordable prices to ensure Asia’s needs can be met for the 2030s and beyond. This will require the support of both existing and new gas-producing countries around the world. 

2. Energy transition will not be linear 

Similar to the long-term role of gas, wider understanding of what practical energy transition looks like has been evolving in recent years. But it’s now really starting to crystallise. Emerging economies cannot (and should not) be expected to transition the same way as highly developed ones. Meeting rapidly increasing energy demand in developing Asia isn’t a luxury, it’s a critical necessity that will bring tens of millions of people out of poverty. 

As I mentioned in a panel session at Gastech, energy transition in Asia won’t be uniform or linear. Instead, it must be tailored to meet each country’s particular circumstances, including geography, climate, natural resources and climate targets. Transition must be considered in light of both energy security and emissions reductions. Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi’s assertion ahead of the G20 Summit that a “one-size-fits-all” model won’t work was correct and very timely. 

3. CCS will tie all of this together 

I spoke quite regularly at Gastech about “responsible” use of natural gas. It’s pleasing that gas will be essential for many years to come but that doesn’t mean it will always be produced and used as it is currently. The long-term future of gas will involve abatement wherever feasible, in the ways in which it is extracted and processed, in its consumption as a fuel, and at all possible points in between (including shipping). 

This will be possible because carbon capture and storage (CCS) is far more advanced than many people realise and will be pivotal to Asia balancing energy demand and climate objectives. The panel session in which I was involved at Gastech included representatives from Santos, Chart Industries, Baker Hughes and Worley – and not one of us expressed a view that CCS might fail from a technical perspective. The tech is already proven. Where we all agreed significant work needed to be done is around making CCS cost-effective at scale and putting in place frameworks that will enable it to be rolled out widely across Asia. 

This is going to be a key focus area for ANGEA over the next couple of years. 

We recently produced a whitepaper that provided a top-level view of CCS in Asia, covering everything from how the technology works, to how CO2 can be safely transported and stored, what sort of investment will be required and a series of policy principles that will help unlock its potential. 

ANGEA CCS Whitepaper

Click HERE to download our new carbon capture and storage whitepaper for Asia.

But the aim is for that document – as valuable as it is – to serve as a scene-setter for much greater involvement from ANGEA and its members in the development of a CCS in Asia. 

Our plan is to undertake an extremely detailed study on a CCS framework for the Asia Pacific region that incorporates capture, storage, transport and pricing, and which will help pave the way for countries, industries, companies and investors to work together and make it happen. 

As I’ve said before, CCS is an extremely exciting area and ANGEA is very much looking forward to becoming even more active in it. What this space! 

Paul Everingham is the inaugural CEO of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (ANGEA), which works with governments, society and industry throughout Asia to build effective and integrated energy policies that meet each country’s climate objectives.