MANILA, Philippines, Oct 24 (UPI) — Most Asian and Pacific utilities have largely blunted the fallout from skyrocketing crude prices with long-term programs in place to wean themselves gradually from dependence on oil for power generation, company executives and experts said Tuesday.

Diesel or bunker fuel still figure in the generation mix of some, but for the most part, plants are using coal, nuclear power and natural gas – a fundamental shift that occurred during the crushing oil shocks of the early 1970s.

“Most of us have already been trying to move away from oil dependence for power generation, except perhaps for countries that have their own oil production like Indonesia,” Federico Puno, president of the Philippines’ National Power Corp., said at a regional electricity conference in Manila.

Even in oil-producing Malaysia, oil firing for power plants “is just for emergency purposes” said Fuad Jafar, president of the state utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

Ninety percent of Australia’s power plants are coal-fired, with oil being just “for emergency, a very small fraction,” said David Croft, chief executive of TransGrid, an Australian electricity distribution firm.

Japan is now 40 percent nuclear, with 20 percent of capacity fired by natural gas and coal, said Noritaka Toyoshima, executive vice president of Kyushu Electric Power Co. Inc.

More than 70 percent of China’s electricity needs is provided by coal, with hydro, gas or nuclear power possibly playing a larger role in its future energy make-up, said a report of the Association of the Electricity Supply Industry of East Asia and the Western Pacific.

The share of nuclear plants in South Korea’s mix will gradually increase in 10 years from the current 29 percent, while coal will maintain its 27.7 percent share, but oil and natural gas would decline, the report said.

Of the smaller economies, even Vietnam is building a nuclear power plant, it added.

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