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Indonesian gas buyers eye
LNG imports from US

Indonesian liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyers are ready to take advantage of falling gas prices in the US, following a boom in shale gas development that has boosted the country’s gas supply in the past several years.

Amid difficulties in securing gas allocations from domestic sources, Indonesian gas users, including state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina and state power utility PT PLN, have expressed their interest in “exploring” the possibility of importing LNG from the US.

PLN oil-based fuels and gas division head Suryadi Mardjoeki said some US gas producers had approached the company and made offers, however no deal had been made to date.

Buying gas from the US would also be more reasonable than importing from the Asian market since the price in the US was based on production costs not linked to the fluctuating global oil price as in the other markets, he added.

“We’re basically very interested in importing LNG from the US, however we need the gas from next year, while most of the US producers will only start deliveries in 2018,” he told The Jakarta Post recently.

Concerning the gas price, Suryadi said his company hoped the government could copy the price mechanism applied in the US as it provided more certainty and better financial calculations for buyers.

PLN has estimated that this year, its gas consumption may reach 356.36 trillion British thermal units (Btu), jumping 25 percent from a year earlier. A part of the gas supply will be obtained from a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) in an offshore area off North Jakarta which will begin commercial operations in April 2012.

The FSRU is built and operated by Nusantara Regas, jointly owned by Pertamina and state gas distributor PGN with a share composition of 60:40. The FSRU is planned to have a total capacity of storing and re-gasifying 3 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG.

As reported earlier, Pertamina has secured a commitment of 1.5 mtpa of LNG delivery from the Bontang LNG plant in East Kalimantan. For the remaining capacity, the company is currently seeking the most economical supply, including studying the possibility of importing from the US.

Pertamina spokesperson Mochamad Harun reported his company was intensively monitoring the gas price on the international markets. The price trend in the US had certainly caught the company’s attention. However, just like PLN, it had not decided to seal an agreement with any US gas producers.

“The price is very low and that is why we will always be open to the possibility of importing gas from the US. If it’s economical, why not?” he said.

In addition to the FSRU in Jakarta Bay, Pertamina also plans to set up another LNG terminal in Central Java which will begin operating in the first quarter of 2013.

The gas price in the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) has dropped steeply from around US$4.50 per million Btu in February 2011 to only $2.47 on Friday. The latest price is for March delivery.

A report from Bloomberg says that LNG delivery from the US to Asia costs around $9.90 per million Btu, according to Cheniere Energy Partners in Louisiana.

In Indonesia, the price for the Jakarta Bay FSRU is set at between $12 and $13 per million Btu.

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