Caption: Monday 26 August 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji
BY ASHTOSH SINGH
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 labelling 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.
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.’
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.
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.