Thai oil firm replaces Petronas in East Natuna gas project
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PT Pertamina has officially appointed Thailand-based PTT Exploration and Production (PTT EP) as one of its partners to develop the gas-rich East Natuna block in Riau Islands, leaving Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) in limbo.
The director general for oil and gas at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Evita Herawati Legowo, confirmed on Friday the Thailand-based firm had been appointed by Pertamina as Petronas’ replacement.
The Malaysia-based firm signed the head of agreement (HoA) along with France’s Total SA in December 2010 to jointly develop the block located in the South China Sea. Petronas, however, quit the consortium earlier this year.
As previously reported, Pertamina holds a 35 percent participating interest in the consortium, which also comprises US-based ExxonMobil with a 35 percent interest, Total SA and Petronas, which each own 15 percent.
PTT EP signed the principle of agreement (PoA) to replace Petronas in August this year, Pertamina spokesman Ali Mundakir said separately. Ali, however, declined to reveal the composition of the participating interests after PTT EP’s inclusion in the consortium.
Pertamina president director Karen Agustiawan said on Friday the firm had chosen PTT EP because it was also a national oil company just like Pertamina and was owned by a fellow ASEAN country.
As for the possibility KUFPEC would be included in the consortium, Karen said she could not comment yet as none of the current consortium’s members had planned to divest their participating interests as far as she knew.
“I cannot comment on KUFPEC because we will have to see the ongoing business-to-business negotiations between the partners,” she said on the sidelines of a meeting with the lawmakers at the House of Representatives’ Commission VII overseeing energy affairs on Friday.
Previously, Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Rudi Rubiandini said that KUFPEC, the state-run oil and gas company of OPEC’s fourth-largest oil exporter Kuwait, had expressed interest in investing in the giant East Natuna gas project.
During the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (AC) Summit in Kuwait City this week, KUFPEC chairman and managing director Nizar Al-Adsani and the firm’s deputy chairman, Ali D. Al-Shammari, expressed interest to Indonesia’s delegation.
The delegation, led by Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, also met Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Oil Minister Hani Hussain to discuss bilateral cooperation.
Separately, the vice president of planning at KUFPEC Regional Ventures (Indonesia) Ltd, Ichsan Samiron, told the Post the company had indeed been planning to jointly develop the East Natuna block as well as to strengthen cooperation with Pertamina in several of the latter’s blocks in the country.
“If there still a chance for us to participate in the project, we will make the most of it,” he said.
KUFPEC’s deputy chairman is slated to visit Jakarta next week in one of his routine visits to the country, according to Ichsan.
This May, Pertamina and KUFPEC signed a memorandum of understanding in Jakarta to launch a feasibility study of a joint venture.