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Indonesia eyes OPEC crude in push to replace third-party supplies

Tokyo — Indonesia may start importing more than 300,000 b/d of crude supplies directly from OPEC member countries as early as this year, as part of its efforts to move away from procuring crudes from third parties, a senior Indonesian government official said Tuesday.

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"We already talked bilaterally with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Angola, [and] the UAE," Agus Cahyono Adi, director of Oil and Gas Program Development at the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources' Directorate General of Oil and Gas, told Platts during a visit to Tokyo.

"Our minister [has] already talked with them to get direct [supplies]," said Adi, adding that the talks were held earlier this month in Vienna.

Indonesia aims to secure "more than 300,000 b/d" of OPEC supplies "soon" for its existing refineries as well as for planned new plants and expansions, Adi said.


"We currently get crude from a third party," Adi said.

"We want to move from the third party to direct [deals between national oil companies]."

Asked about the prospective start of supplies from OPEC producers, Adi said: "Maybe this year to next year."

CRUDE NEEDS

Indonesia last month launched an ambitious plan to build four refineries, each with capacities ranging between 300,000 b/d and 350,000 b/d, to cut its dependency on oil product imports. This follows agreements signed in December 2014 between the country's state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina and three of the world's largest refining companies -- Saudi Aramco, Sinopec and JX Nippon Oil & Energy -- to expand and upgrade four of its refineries.

Pertamina currently has a total refining capacity of 1.04 million b/d, but typically runs at 820,000 b/d as its refineries are very old.

The upgrades and expansions will take total capacity to 1.68 million b/d by 2022.

Indonesia currently produces a little over 800,000 b/d of crude oil, meaning the country will need around 2 million b/d of crude oil imports if the expansion and greenfield plants come on stream, assuming the four new refineries have capacity of 300,000 b/d each.

OPEC MEMBERSHIP

Indonesia has formally announced its intent to OPEC Secretary General Abdalla el-Badri to rejoin the oil exporters' group, the country's energy and mines minister Sudirman Said said in Vienna on June 4.

According to Adi, the group has agreed informally, with support from several ministers, but official membership would likely have to wait until the next meeting, planned for December.

"I think we [will] wait until the next meeting... until they give us [the green light] officially," he said, citing the group's procedure for membership.

Indonesia suspended its OPEC membership in 2008 after becoming a net importer of oil, with its crude and gas condensate output falling over the past decade due to natural declines at its aging fields.

Asked why Indonesia, a net oil importer, was seeking to return to OPEC, Adi said the country could fill an important role as "a mediator" between producers and consumers.

Regaining a "close relationship with OPEC" would also be beneficial in securing supplies for new and expansion refining projects, Adi added.

Another senior Indonesian official has also echoed that Indonesia may officially regain a full OPEC membership at the group's next meeting on December 4.

"We will attend the next OPEC meeting and we are likely to [have] a full active membership again," MEMR's oil and gas director general, IGN Wiratmaja Puja, said June 12.

Puja said Indonesia has also secured a commitment from various oil producer countries, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran.

Besides being willing to supply the crude oil, some of their national oil companies are also keen on investing in Indonesia's refinery projects.

Indonesia's crude oil imports rose 8.2% year on year to 7.36 million mt (357,325 b/d) over January-May 2015, latest data from Statistics Indonesia show.

--Takeo Kumagai, takeo.kumagai@platts.com --Anita Nugraha, newsdesk@platts.com --Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@platts.com