Sunday, 20 Oct 2019
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US pushes energy diplomacy

Updated at Wednesday, 02 Oct 2019, 20:14
The Hanoitimes - Energy diplomacy has been a focus of the US`s Indo-Pacific strategic on the back of a shale revolution that has turned the US into a notable energy exporter.
With a stronger energy position, the United States has been pushing energy diplomacy as the superpower seeks to enhance geopolitical influence in regions with huge needs of energy. 

Role of ENR

The Department of State is the lead US agency in formulating and implementing international energy policy. The Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR), established less than a decade ago, leads the Department of State’s efforts to forge the US’s international energy policy to strengthen US and global energy security. ENR works closely with the Department of Energy.  

ENR serves as the principal advisor to Secretary of State on energy security, policy, operations, and programs. ENR manages the critical nexus between energy and US foreign policy and ensures US leadership on global energy issues.

ENR responds to energy challenges from around the world that affect American prosperity and US national security. ENR works with leaders at the highest levels of government, business, and civil society, to reduce the threats and advance US foreign policy objectives.
 
Kent Logsdon, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State. Photo: Minh Tuan
Kent Logsdon, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State. Photo: Minh Tuan
What ENR does to support US national security strategy?

Ensure energy security for the US, and for the country’s allies and partners. ENR promotes the diversification of energy sources, supplies, and routes globally so that the US’s allies and partners become more resilient against those that use energy to coerce. ENR works with the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to promote transparency abroad, improve energy resource governance, and reduce corruption.

Promote exports of US energy resources, technologies, and services globally to sustain US economic growth and job creation. ENR works to promote US energy exports and a broad range of market-based energy solutions, which help its allies and partners diversify their energy sources and bring economic gains back home.

ENR advocates for US companies that are entering new markets to help promote US exports and protect US investments abroad. The Bureau works with US companies to identify infrastructure and energy sector opportunities overseas that will create more US jobs.

ENR works with governments that are interested in setting up the right enabling frameworks that allow private sector companies, including those from the US, to come into the market to work with the governments to help them in sustainable development, said Kent Logsdon, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State.  

ENR supports middle-sized energy companies with little international experience and this is where it plays the role of matchmaker.

The US has a spate of bilateral strategic energy dialogues with countries that it has strong relationships, for example with Vietnam, the EU, the Philippines, etc., Logsdon added.

ENR works with regulators, ministries and energy authorities in order to bring in experts and expertise, share good and bad experiences, with an aim to help the private sector come into the market and better compete.

Based on his experience as a diplomat, Logsdon said US businesses all over the world want a transparent, structured, fair and predictable environment that they can work in.

Open markets, reduce barriers to energy trade and development, and ensure universal access to affordable, reliable energy to help reduce poverty, foster economic growth, and promote prosperity. ENR promotes open, transparent, and market-based energy sectors in advance of US economic interests.

ENR coordinates with governments and companies to pursue energy diversification, including highly efficient fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables, and to develop efficient and sustainable energy policies by leveraging technical assistance and public-private partnerships.

Geopolitical concerns

One of ENR’s missions is to counteract Russia’s dominance of European fuel supplies through diversification of energy type, source and supply routes.

Much of Russia’s revenue comes from exporting oil and gas, but “it is part of Russia’s geopolitical efforts to be a major player in Europe. And that concerns us,” said Logsdon. In the past, Russia has used natural gas as a weapon. In 2006, Russia turned off the gas for Ukraine and people suffered cold. “Nord Stream 2 is a geopolitical move and not a commercial move,” Logsdon affirmed.
 
Nord Stream 2 transports gas from Russia to Germany
Nord Stream 2 transports gas from Russia to Germany
Secretary of State Pompeo in a speech at CERAWeek stated that the US’s newfound energy abundance has meant much for American foreign policy. “Our plentiful oil supplies allow us to help our friends secure diversity for their energy resources. We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project any more than we ourselves want to depend on Venezuela for our oil supplies.”
The US also discusses energy security with NATO and “the alliance should look at energy security as one of the kinds of security to think about for any national security strategy,” Logsdon added.

Pompeo pointed out China’s illegal island-building in international waterways isn’t simply a security matter. By blocking development in the South China Sea through coercive means, China prevents ASEAN members from accessing more than $2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves.

“To contrast, the United States government promotes energy security for those Southeast Asian nations. We want countries in the region to have access to their own energy. We want to help them. We want to create partnerships. We want transparent transactions, not debt traps,” Pompeo boasted.  

Asia EDGE

Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) is one of the three pillars of Secretary Pompeo’s Indo-Pacific strategy. It’s an effort for the US to work with countries in the region to show the US’s alternatives and private sector-led model environment.
 
Indo-Pacific region
Indo-Pacific region
The US has energy dialogues with a wide range of government in the region, including China, South Korea, Japan, ASEAN. The US also partners with Japan and Australia to carry out projects under Asia EDGE’s umbrella.
He noted that the South China Sea is home to an estimated US$2.5 trillion worth of hydrocarbons, not to mention other types of minerals. “Obviously it is a very important part of the world for our future. Asia is also the region with the strongest growth in energy demand in the next 20 years.”

In an Asia tour to Vietnam and Thailand in June, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis R. Fannon told a group of reporters that the US and Vietnam have seen unexpectedly meaningful advancement in energy cooperation over the past three years, especially after the US-Vietnam Energy Security Dialogues held in Hanoi in March 2018 and Washington D.C. in April 2019.

The Indo-Pacific region will account for 60% of the world’s energy demand growth by 2040, said Mr. Fannon.
Minh Tuan
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