Emerging Disputes in Energy and the Environment in Southeast Asia

Author: Adam Sutan, Senior Associate, Soemadipradja & Taher, Jakarta

The panel discussion was held at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on 6 March 2024.

Graciously hosted by the Australian Embassy, this event brought together distinguished speakers and attendees from the business and legal communities of Indonesia, Australia, and beyond.

The event was a collaborative effort between ICC Australia, ICC Indonesia, and the ICC Dispute Resolution Services, focusing on discussing emerging disputes in the realm of energy (both traditional and renewable sources), natural resources, and environmental issues. Key topics included energy transition claims, carbon offset credits, carbon capture and storage, and climate change impacts.

The discussion featured esteemed speakers:

  1. Shinta W. Kamdani, CEO of Sintesa Group;
  2. Mark Mangan, Partner at Lindsay Francis & Mangan;
  3. Mark Dempsey SC of 7 Wentworth Selborne;
  4. Amanda Lees, Partner at King & Wood Mallesons;
  5. Carmel Proudfoot, Managing Associate at Linklaters;
  6. Dr. Matthew Secomb, Partner at White & Case;
  7. Rahmat Soemadipradja, Partner and Co-founder of Soemadipradja & Taher;
  8. Dr. Laode Muhammad Syarif, Executive Director of KEMITRAAN; and
  9. Indiana Rai, Deputy Director, ICC Arbitration and ADR, ICC Indonesia.

The session commenced with welcoming remarks from Tim Stapleton, Acting Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy, and an introduction by Mark Mangan on behalf of ICC Australia. Shinta W. Kamdani offered opening remarks via a recorded message, underscoring the critical need to tackle environmental issues within the context of the energy transition and leadership changes in Indonesia.

Under the guidance of moderator Mark Dempsey SC, the panellists engaged in discussions centred around three main themes:

1. State of Play for Energy and the Environment:

The panel discussion explored the complex interplay between energy production, environmental sustainability, and regulatory frameworks in Indonesia and Australia in their transition to renewable energy. The dialogue underscored the challenges of corruption, investment, and infrastructural constraints while highlighting the opportunities for innovation and international cooperation in the energy sector.

2. Issues and Risks for Investors and Governments:

In this segment, the panellists discussed the regulatory and political challenges investors face, especially in navigating the legal and bureaucratic environment in Indonesia for energy projects. The importance of due diligence, regulatory compliance, and the clarity of regulatory frameworks for attracting and protecting investments were also discussed, along with potential risks from investment treaties.

3. Causes of Action, Remedies, and Enforcement:

In the last part, the discussion explored disputes arising from the energy transition, including construction disputes and decommissioning obligations. Discussions also covered potential remedies, enforcement mechanisms, and the need for strong regulatory frameworks and effective dispute-resolution methods to support sustainable development goals.

Overall, the discussion offered a rich array of perspectives, from optimism about future opportunities to caution regarding the risks involved. Practical guidelines were also shared during the discussions, advocating careful approaches to navigate uncertainties.

A vibrant Q&A session with the audience followed, delving into the complexities of conducting business in Indonesia, alternative energy production viewpoints, and disputes related to carbon offset credits.

The event concluded with words of appreciation from Indiana Rai of ICC Indonesia to all participants, speakers, and organisers, along with an invitation to enjoy refreshments courtesy of White & Case and King & Wood Mallesons.