The impacts of COVID-19 were wide-ranging and touched all levels of society, shaking nations’ economies and people.
But as the effects of the pandemic are reversed, what can help turbocharge the region’s rally to growth once more?
At a recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Dialogues, Irtiza Sayyed, President, ExxonMobil LNG Market Development, joined Takeshi Soda, METI Director of Oil and Natural Gas, Japan, and Tengku Taufik, President and Group CEO of Petronas, Malaysia, in a discussion on the energy challenges and opportunities ahead for the region.
During the event, Sayyed said energy demand can play a key role in helping nations get their economies back on track after the impact of COVID-19.
Sayyed added energy is a key factor for not only ensuring Asia-Pacific’s quality of life, but also for continued growth and development as all people get the opportunity to gain a better livelihood.
“APEC leaders know very well the strong correlation between economic development and energy demand growth,” he said.
“Economic progress means each generation is better off than the previous generation. So, APEC leaders are acutely aware there are few challenges more important than meeting the growing demand for energy and at the same time doing so sustainably.”
He said a mix of different fuel sources will help meet this energy demand, which is rising particularly fast in Asia-Pacific, where the region’s growing middle class is turning to more energy as their quality of life improves.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that the Asia-Pacific region will account for more than half of new global gas consumption, much of which will be used in the industrial sector and as LNG in trucks and river transport.
Sayyed added that it also helps these Asia-Pacific nations work towards their climate goals, as it is a cleaner fuel compared to other traditional sources.
“Natural gas offers a solution toward a more prosperous and sustainable future,” he said.
“Air pollution is one of the region’s top challenges. Gas can meet this problem as natural gas produces up to 60% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal when used for utility-scale power generation, along with fewer emissions of pollutants.”
He said that LNG also helps put developing nations on a more secure path towards a more sustainable energy mix, moving away from higher-emissions fuel sources like coal.
“We feel that LNG will allow economies to make that bridge and meet their near-term energy needs while also setting them up well for a lower-carbon energy future,” he added.
“It’s complementary to renewables.”
Sayyed said that technologies like carbon capture and storage are also an opportunity for the energy industry to further improve emissions reductions over the long term.
This allows countries to support the rapid growth of their economy and industrial sectors without increasing air pollution, keeping skies blue.
However, it will require collaboration between governments and industry.
Also speaking at the APEC CEO Dialogues, ExxonMobil China gas marketing president Tze San Koh explained that diversity in the workplace was ensuring that all people had the opportunity to play a part in energising the world, and could reap the benefits, especially in a post-COVID-19 world.
She spoke during a roundtable discussion on women’s economic empowerment at the conference. She said that despite the impacts of the pandemic it was important for people to continue to reach out to each other – virtually – and aid those in need in the workplace to not just survive but thrive.
“During COVID-19, it is important for working women to be supporting each other,” Koh said.
“Events like ExxonMobil LNG’s Power Play have provided forums for us to come together via Zoom to network as well as to discuss the issues we are facing. They have been making sure that inclusion and diversity stay top of mind through a range of webinars and virtual networking events.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Let’s continue to encourage each other and to stay strong together to make a positive impact.”