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Indonesian energy minister seeks to rejoin Opec

Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 14:31

[JAKARTA] Indonesia's energy minister said on Thursday he would ask for President Joko Widodo's approval for the country to rejoin Opec seven years after leaving the oil exporters' group.

Indonesia was the only Asian member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for nearly 50 years, before leaving the group in late 2008 as rising domestic demand and falling production turned it into a net oil importer. "I will ask the president to consider rejoining as a member of Opec, so we are close to the market," Energy Minister Sudirman Said told reporters. "We have been offered to rejoin." Opec's statutes stipulate, however, that any "country with a substantial net export of crude petroleum, which has fundamentally similar interests to those of Member Countries, may become a Full Member of the Organization, if accepted by a majority of three-fourths of Full Members, including the concurring votes of all Founder Members."

Opec does allow for associate members, "which are those countries that do not qualify for full membership, but are nevertheless admitted under such special conditions as may be prescribed." It was not immediately possible to confirm with Opec that it had offered to let Indonesia rejoin the group or on what basis.

The minister said he will attend Opec's meeting in early June as an observer. "Membership has levels. At the beginning we can be an observer, but later, if we are given the possibility to be a full member, that is good," the minister said. "We are still exporting gas, though only a little bit, so it's not a problem (to be an OPEC member again)." Indonesia's oil output target for this year is 825,000 barrels per day (bpd), which is about half of it production peak in the early 1990s. And while it still exports some crude oil, its imports of refined products make it a net importer.

Indonesia is also a large exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Minister Said also said Indonesia would soon be sending a government delegation to Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Russia and other oil-producing countries for possible supply deals.

REUTERS