SPC To Hold Energy Sector Strengthening Workshops

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Economic Development Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is currently conducting a series of regional workshops in an effort to strengthen the capability of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to: (i) formulate energy policies and plans based on their national energy database; (ii) manage the petroleum sector, particularly its safety and environment challenges, and (iii) improve energy efficiency through appliance labeling and standards.

The three back-to-back workshops are currently being held at the SPC Suva Office from August 19–26 and are attended by representatives of national energy offices, power utilities, petroleum and pricing commissioners and authorities, national and regional oil companies, as well as regional agencies and development partners.

In his opening address, SPC’s Economic Development Division (EDD) Director, John Hogan, said, ‘At the Pacific Energy Ministers’ meeting in 2009, the leaders expressed the need to strengthen national capacity in energy data and information to better inform national and regional energy planning and policy choices.’ He drew attention to the fact that in 2012 the EDD Energy Programme published the 2009 energy security indicator country profiles for 14 Pacific Island countries and – due to the generosity of the Australian government and the European Union Energy Initiative’s Policy Dialogue Facility – is currently embarking on the major task of updating the profiles of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

He said, ‘Field work has reconfirmed that there is still a lot of work to be done and so the workshop is timely in terms of improving skills and techniques for participants to compile their own energy database, as well as address some of the ongoing challenges in terms of data access and energy data skill competency.’

The Petroleum Pricing and Basic Health, Safety, Security and Environment Standards Workshop, which began on Thursday 22 August is a follow-up to requests made by PICTs during a similar regional workshop conducted in June 2012. SPC’s Petroleum Adviser, Alan Bartmanovich, stressed that safety is the prime consideration in the petroleum sector. ‘The issues of safety, environment, health and supply security should be non-negotiable and pre-conditions for suppliers that intend to supply fuel to PICTs. Only once these are satisfactorily in place, then we can consider negotiating on the price of fuel. Suppliers that offer cheap fuel but not taking safety measures into proper consideration can result in millions or even billions of dollars’ worth of investments turning into ashes in a matter of minutes.’

The workshop participants appreciated SPC’s petroleum advisory services, such as the reviewing of the petroleum pricing templates. The advice has proven extremely beneficial for PICTs. A 2011 review of Tonga’s petroleum and liquefied petroleum gas pricing templates has led to savings of approximately 2.5 million pa’anga per year.

The workshop and steering committee meeting for the Australian government-funded programme Pacific Appliance Labelling and Standards (PALS) is today (26 August). Participants will discuss country updates on progress and challenges and several other initiatives, including legislation and synergies with parallel projects, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s energy efficiency programmes.

‘Energy efficiency continues to be a top priority in SPC’s effort to enhance energy security in our region. The use of energy efficient appliances through mandatory performance standards and energy labelling implemented by SPC’s PALS programme has gained significant support from PICTs, and promising advancements have been made, particularly in Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga,’ John Hogan said.

‘It is pleasing to note the level of support to this programme. The cabinets of Vanuatu and, more recently, Solomon Islands have approved the implementation of PALS in their respective countries,’ said Makereta Sauturaga, Project Manager for PALS.

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