Politicians question ExxonMobil’s presence in East Natuna
number of politicians and country figures gathering in Jakarta on
Thursday questioned the recently approved participation of US giant oil
company ExxonMobil in the development of the East Natuna gas block in
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla said the unfairness was evident in
the sharing of profits between Indonesia and the US firm as specified
in past contracts; and demanded that Indonesia’s state oil and gas
company PT Pertamina, not ExxonMobil, be the operator of the gas
“Don’t forget that since we’ve had [upstream oil and
gas regulator] BPMigas, Pertamina has become a technical company, no
longer a regulator. What is [Pertamina] if not an operator?” Kalla
told a discussion titled “The East Natuna Block and National Sovereignty” at the House of Representatives in Jakarta.
Kalla also dismissed statements that Indonesia could not afford the
cost of exploration in the gas field due to financial and
technology constraints, which had led to the decision for ExxonMobil to
operate the block in the past, saying this was simply untrue.
Similar notions came from, among others, lawmakers Maruar Sirait
of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Satya W.
Yudha of the Golkar Party, and former Regional Representatives Council
member Marwan Batubara, who also addressed Thursday’s discussion.
Last month, Pertamina appointed ExxonMobil, along with
Malaysia’s Petronas and France’s Total SA, as its partners in the
development of the giant gas project, set to go on stream by 2021.
East Natuna gas field, formerly known as the Natuna D. Alpha, has been
an important project for Indonesia due to its huge gas reserves. Located
in the South China Sea, the block is estimated to contain 46 trillion
cubic feet of gas, making it the biggest gas reserve in Asia.