MANILA�An official from an oil importing country in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has urged a review of the group's existing common energy programs. He also urged ASEAN oil exporting nations to help the importers better face higher crude prices, it was reported here yesterday.
Philippines Energy Sec. Mario V. Tiaoqui made the call by saying that ASEAN oil producers should consider giving discounts or even providing a special payment scheme for oil importers within the 10-member group.
Despite efforts to reduce dependency on imported oil through development of indigenous energy resources, the Philippines' net oil import bill reached $2.3 billion in 1999, equivalent to 42% of the country's trade deficit that year, he said.
"ASEAN includes both oil exporters and importers among its members. Therefore, it can help to strike a balance between these two interests as it has built-in opportunities for give-and-take propositions," the local media quoted Tiaoqui as saying.
Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, and Brunei are ASEAN's oil exporters, while the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos are oil importers.
Tiaoqui proposed that ASEAN oil exporters should assist oil importers during times of high prices, while net importers could give priority to buying ASEAN oil during times of excess supply.
ASEAN has a number of joint energy programs, including the ASEAN emergency sharing scheme and the ASEAN security of petroleum supply scheme. Tiaoqui said it was time these programs were reviewed, especially in the light of present developments in the oil industry.