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UNFC: enhanced energy security and sustainability

Published: 15 February 2012


Mr. Hongpeng Liu, Chief of the Energy Security and Water Resources Section at ESCAP, opened a workshop on the United Nations Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources 2009 (UNFC) in Bangkok on 9 February. Mr. Liu highlighted the critical role of fossil fuel and mineral resources for development in the region, and noted that it is a priority for ESCAP countries to be able to grow and thereby address development. “Resources are limited and access to them could become contentious. It becomes essential to be able to assess the supply base and reserves in a scientific manner that is accepted by all” observed Mr. Liu. Asia-Pacific must move forward with efficient resource management and development.  UNFC is a critical step in that direction. "Implementing the UNFC will help the ESCAP region with accurate resource assessments that will promote enhanced energy security and sustainability". 

The Workshop was organized by the Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and South-east Asia (CCOP), in cooperation with ECE and ESCAP, under its Enhancing Public Petroleum Management Programme (funded by the Norwegian Government). The goal of the programme is to create the highest possible value for society from petroleum resources in order to improve the quality of life of the people in CCOP Member Countries.

Mr. Per Blystad, Senior Advisor in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, explained that one should not underestimate the importance of efficiency in upstream resource management. Current forecasts show that in 2035, fossil fuels will provide about 80% of primary energy. It is therefore critical that non-renewable energy resources be managed efficiently. Mr. Blystad noted “a common classification system could significantly enhance our ability to document and evaluate the potential resource base in a consistent and accurate manner, leading to a more reliable database for global energy studies. The UNFC is such a system and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is proud to have been integrally involved in its development since 2002. Development of the classification is not yet finished, as the specifications remain to be finalized and those need to be at hand for the system to be complete. Thus, the coming years will be critical." Specifications are the secondary rules necessary to ensure an appropriate level of consistency in application of the UNFC.

Government representatives from the minerals and petroleum sectors from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the two-day event.

Professor He Qingcheng, Director, CCOP Technical Secretariat, observed that the UNFC system captures common principles and provides a tool for consistent reporting of extractive activities, regardless of the commodity. “The UNFC paves the way towards improved and efficient global communications among stakeholders that will then aid stability and security of supplies with better understood rules and guidelines. This is also relevant as we move forward towards securing affordable, sustainable and more environmentally-friendly resources that CCOP countries are also advocating” stated Professor He.

Dr. Ian Lambert, Group Leader of Geoscience Australia, underlined the value of the UNFC as a universal template. Geoscience Australia is a Government agency that evaluates Australia’s national stocks of minerals and energy resources. “Industry, financial, national and international resource reporting systems should be mapped to a universal template – the UNFC 2009 – to clarify the similarities and differences between systems in use around the world” observed Dr. Lambert. “Currently, at national and international levels, we are comparing and adding estimates that are not compatible, and this is an unsatisfactory situation.”

For more information on the UNFC or the Expert Group on Resource Classification, visit: http://unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html and/or contact Ms. Charlotte Griffiths at:  reserves.energy@unece.org.  For further information on CCOP and/or the EPPM Programme contact Mr. Simplicio Caluyong at: sim@coop.or.th


Note to editors

The Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and South-east Asia (CCOP) is an intergovernmental organization whose mission is to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of applied geoscience programmes in East and South-east Asia in order to contribute to economic development and the improvement of the quality of life in the region. To this end, CCOP promotes capacity building, technology transfer, exchange of information and institutional linkages for sustainable resource development, management of geo-information, geo-hazard mitigation and protection of the environment. CCOP has thirteen member countries: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR), Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. It is supported by fifteen cooperating countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Operating under ECOSOC Decision 2004/233, ECE’s global work on the UNFC is carried out by the Expert Group on Resource Classification, whose key focus is the further development and global promotion and implementation of the UNFC.  UNFC, which is generic, intuitive and user-friendly, is the only modern classification system in the world to address the minerals, petroleum and uranium sectors using a single set of definitions and terminology. 

Sustainable energy development is dependent on careful management of the world’s non-renewable energy resources i.e. oil, natural gas, coal and uranium. The UNFC has an important role to play in this process. The availability of these non-renewable energy resources over the longer term is of crucial importance to both energy consumers and producers, particularly as a large and growing population is coming out of poverty. The UNFC will significantly facilitate the availability of relevant and reliable information on energy reserves and resources in support of international and national resources management, of industry’s management of exploration and production processes, of management of the associated international financial resources and for public awareness. It fills essential needs in the United Nations’ endeavours to build sustainable civilizations.

The UNFC is an umbrella classification system which is fully aligned with the key commodity-specific systems in place worldwide for petroleum – the Petroleum Resource Management System (PRMS) of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), the World Petroleum Petroleum Council (WPC), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE) – and for minerals – the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) International Reporting Template.

The UNFC is designed to meet the needs of four principal stakeholders: (i) analysts of international energy and mineral resources; (ii) Governments – to manage their resources accordingly; (iii) industry – to provide data and information necessary to deploy technology, management and finance in order to serve the host countries, shareholders and stakeholders; and (iv) the financial community – to provide the information necessary to allocate capital appropriately so reducing costs.  A strong code, offering simplicity without sacrificing completeness or flexibility, the UNFC paves the way for improved global communications which will aid stability and security of supplies, governed by fewer and more widely understood rules and guidelines. The efficiencies to be gained through its use are substantial.

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