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Indonesia Prez to seek Mideast oil cooperation

Written by: Staff

Jakarta, Apr 24: Indonesia will seek more supplies of crude oil from Saudi Arabia and LNG from Qatar during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's first official visit to the Middle East this week, a Pertamina official said today.

Yudhoyono will visit Saudi Arabia from April 25 to 28, Kuwait from April 28 to 30, Qatar April 30 to May 1 and the United Arab Emirates from May 1 to 2, ending the trip in Jordan, accompanied by officials from the energy sector, among others.

''We will offer possible cooperation to build an oil refinery but it depends on an economical project. However, the Saudis are ready to supply Indonesia with more crude oil,'' Iin Arifin Takhyan, vice president director of state oil firm Pertamina told reporters.

Pertamina already imports around 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi crude. Asia-Pacific's only OPEC member has nine refineries with combined capacity of around 1 million bpd, which supply only about 70 per cent of its domestic fuel demand.

Pertamina has said it planned to revamp its refineries in a bid to make them more economical and boost product output.

''However, Pertamina programmes to revamp refineries have to be supported by more crude imports,'' the ministry official said.

A mines and energy ministry official told reporters Indonesia wanted to import liquefied natural gas from Qatar for a planned new terminal in West Java, which will be built by state electricity firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN).

Indonesia is a major natural gas producer but has long-term export contracts that account for much of its output.

''PLN plans to build an LNG terminal in West Java and we need to import LNG, possibly from Qatar. Our own LNG will continue to be exported,'' said the official, who declined to be identified.

Indonesia may also seek to boost its role in Middle Eastern politics. Presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal told Reuters that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is working on a possible meeting between Yudhoyono and Palestinian leaders, but he did not elaborate.

A newspaper quoted a Palestinian diplomat as saying Yudhoyono would meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.

Indonesia, which does not recognise Israel while it has helped support a Palestinian mission in Jakarta, has been raising its diplomatic profile under Yudhoyono and has said it would like to encourage peace in the West Asia.

Former president Abdurrahman Wahid has raised the possibility of establishing ties with Israel during his administration, but backed down in the face of criticism.


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