Singapore has potential to be natural gas trading hub: Panel

Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has the potential to develop into a regional, and perhaps global, natural gas trading hub, given its reputation for stable regulatory framework as well as existing trading and financial infrastructure.

That is the view of the Ministry of Trade and Industry's International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Energy, which advises the Government in preparing for future developments.

The panel's members include Dr Dan Arvizu, director and chief executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Dr Choo Kang-Soo, honorary chairman of the Korean Gas Union; Ole Enger, chairman of REC Solar; and Dr Claude Mandil, former executive director at the International Energy Agency.

The panel, which released its recommendations on Tuesday (Oct 28), said Singapore should develop trading mechanisms and standards to facilitate the growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) market.

The IAP noted that the global LNG market would likely double in the next two decades with strong growth in Asia . The panel said there is an emerging need for supply flexibility and market efficiency in gas trading, and believes that if Singapore plays its cards right, it can be a reference point for gas pricing.

It also recommended that Singapore take a long-term view and continue to expand its infrastructure and develop supporting services.

Mr S Iswaran, Second Minister for Trade and Industry and chairman of the panel, said: "We have certain advantages by virtue of our reputation for regulatory standards, our connectivity to the region and also the supporting infrastructure that we have here because we already are a major trading hub for oil, for example. And some of these services, ancillary support services can easily also support the activities for gas."

However, the panel said it will take time for Singapore to develop as a gas hub.

The panel also identified renewable energy as an area where more research and development can be explored. It supported Singapore's efforts to facilitate greater deployment of solar energy, welcoming in particular the decision not to subsidise deployment and the country's commitment to liberalised markets.

Solar energy is at present Singapore's only technically and economically-viable renewable energy source, the panel said. To make solar energy viable, continued research and development is needed to reduce costs and develop attractive financing models.

"So it's all about using, in effect, more renewable energy, developing more efficient energy use and a better development pattern," said Mr Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President of global relations and strategic planning for "And one particular important area is energy storage. And that's where Singapore is beginning to invest in, and the potential there to change the game is very large."

Innovation will also be key to capitalising on opportunities in the energy sector, and the panel backed Singapore's strategy to direct investments towards developing solutions on both the demand and supply sides. It also encouraged strong collaborations between research institutes and industry players, so that solutions can be delivered from the laboratory to the market.

- CNA/ac