Editorial

How will 2019 elections in Asia Pacific impact the energy sector?

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It is election season in Asia Pacific. While Thailand heads for the by-elections following voting irregularities, India, Indonesia and Australia will also head to the polls this year.

Who will win? How will the energy sector be impacted? What do investors need to consider? 

Let Wood Mackenzie's Andrew Harwood and Verisk Maplecroft's Miha Hribernik walk you through the Asia Pacific election landscape.

 

Watch WoodMac's Andrew Harwood and Verisk Maplecroft's Miha Hribernik predict who will win and what are the energy implications.

India

Key dates:

  • First phase on 11 April
  • Results to be announced on 23 May

We expect incumbent president Narendra Modi to stay in power for another five years. However, Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to lose its majority in the lower house of parliament.

The result is unlikely to radically change India’s policy direction. At the very least we expect the government to counter any attempts to undo the widely unpopular – if necessary – reforms introduced in the past five years, such as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Energy policy has not really been front and centre of the election debate, but securing stable and affordable sources of supply will still be a key feature of all party manifestos.

A second term for Modi would likely maintain the momentum for major energy sector reforms, such as policies to boost exploration and production, gas pricing reform and deregulation.

Even with an official opposition in place, it is unlikely that these reforms would be reversed. It could, however, lead to more prolonged discussions on reconciling India's clean energy commitments with economic growth priorities and appetite for coal to meet energy demand.

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Indonesia

Key date: Voting begins on 17 April

We predict that President Jokowi will once again defeat his 2014 opponent, Prabowo Subianto, and secure a second five-year term.

Indonesia is facing a growing supply-demand gap, as the country's energy demand is growing while domestic production continues to decline, particularly on the oil side.

The country has also seen  decreasing levels of investment in exploration and development of new supply as investors are concerned about complex regulations and challenging fiscal terms.

In the run-up to the election, we have also seen a ramp up in nationalisation; with national oil company PERTAMINA taking over a number of expiring contracts, replacing the existing international oil company operators.

However, PERTAMINA has a lot on its plate, and the government will face increasing pressure to offer greater incentives to attract new foreign investors.

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Australia

Key date: Election must be held by 18 May

Australia is the only one of our three countries where we expect an opposition victory. The Labor Party will likely take home a comfortable win. This means that Bill Shorten could become Australia’s first Labor prime minister since 2013.

This would allow Labor to implement its policy agenda, which includes far more ambitious action on climate change.

Current prime minister Scott Morrison has refocused policy on energy prices and reliability, with climate targets falling by the wayside. But a Labour victory should signal a shift towards tougher action on greenhouse gas emissions and increased efforts to boost renewables. The party has already flagged an emissions intensity scheme for big emitters, which we think would be welcomed by producers in the upstream sector.

We could also see tweaks to the Australia Domestic Gas Supply Mechanism, which was introduced amid concerns of gas on east coast being exported at the expense of domestic consumers. This again will bring additional uncertainty for gas producers on the east coast.

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