Monday, April 29, 2013

GE 13 : Which Party Will Safeguard Our Energy Security?

Here is some good news – Malaysia still has plenty of the oil and gas that has been so important to our development. But here's the bad news – in order to find it we will have to dig deeper, work smarter and spend a lot more money bringing it to the surface.
Each deep water exploration platform costs around $50 million (RM154 million) and there's no guarantee it will end up paying for itself. But we don't have a choice. As a nation set to become a net oil importer by 2015 we simply have to get to what lies within our boundaries.
That's why Petronas and its international partners have earmarked RM170 billion for joint-venture oil and gas exploration projects. But last year it warned those plans could be ruined by Pakatan Rakyat's plan (this year confirmed in its manifesto) to raise the state oil royalty in oil-producing states from five to 20 percent.
That manifesto also promised a 40 sen per litre petrol price cut, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak warns would further divert funds from exploration, adding "that is a recipe for economic disaster."
For a nation that will sooner rather than later have to ask itself questions about its oil consumption, giving a further fuel price cut is like pouring petrol on the fire. It will do nothing to make Malaysian families think about how much they drive and the cost to the environment.
Then there is the fact that we are already among the top ten nations for cheap petrol and this rigid 40 sen figure has nothing to do with market forces. Oil prices worldwide are set by good old fashioned supply and demand, yet Pakatan's socialist nirvana conjures up images of Soviet politburo hacks sitting around a table to artificially set prices for the coming year. It is totally out of step with modern economics.
The BN Government of Najib has something of a love-hate relationship with oil. No one can deny its role in making this nation great but we can't be dependent on it into the next decade. The economy the Government wants by 2020 is diverse, highly skilled and increasingly sustainable.
Study BN's manifesto and you see that, yes, it too wants justice for oil producing states but not at the risk of a decade of vital exploration. It takes a holistic view of our energy needs and regional development. BN promises in its next term to supply electricity to 6,000 homes on the Peninsula, 60,000 in Sabah and 80,000 in Sarawak. This is fair in terms of both rural development and freeing these communities from thousands of oil-consuming generators.
Last year Energy Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui described what he sees as our future energy. It includes biogas, biomass, small hyrdro, solar and possibly nuclear.
None of these solutions are as cheap or easy as sucking oil and gas from the ground, but they're a step in the right direction. The future energy landscape is complicated – and requires more advanced thinking than using cheap oil to buy votes.

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