Exxon closure forces other firms to shut in troubled Aceh

Published March 11th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Exxon Mobil Indonesia's decision to halt oil and gas production in troubled Aceh province for security reasons has forced other major companies in the area to shut, a report said Sunday. 

 

PT Arun LNG Co, a major exporter of liquefied natural gas to Japan and South Korea, officially stopped operations Saturday, the Serambi daily said. 

 

"We have to halt production because the supply of gas as raw material from Exxon Mobil has totally stopped," firm spokesman Rustam Effendi said.  

 

PT Arun, which employs more than 1,400 workers, and has another 2,400 contractors, is 55 percent owned by state oil and gas company Pertamina, 35 percent by Mobil Oil Indonesia Inc, and 15 percent by Japan-Indonesian LNG Co. 

 

Exxon Mobil, which operates three oil and gas fields in North Aceh -- in South Lhoksukon, Arun and Pase -- and supplies several other major companies in the area with gas and condensate, halted production Friday over security concerns. 

 

Exxon Mobil operates in an area of North Aceh where violence is common between government forces and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) which has been fighting for a separate Islamic state since the mid 1970s. 

 

Exxon Mobil sites have been the scene of fighting. Staff have been kidnapped and threatened, vehicles burned and shots have been fired at the company's chartered airplanes. 

 

On Saturday, the company was evacuating staff from its local airstrip to Medan in neighbouring North Sumatra, Serambi said.  

 

On Friday, fertilizer plants PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda and PT Asean Aceh Fertilizer also halted production following the interrupted fuel supply from Exxon Mobil. 

 

Paper plant PT Kertas Kraft Aceh is also said to be facing difficulties because of the stoppage of the fuel supply. On Saturday, security appeared to have been reinforced at Exxon Mobil, with armed soldiers manning all security posts. 

 

Aceh police chief Brigadier General Chairul Rasyidi said police were ready to provide extensive protection to Exxon Mobil, which has so far been guarded by the army. 

 

He said he had also asked Jakarta for reinforcements for safeguarding the operations of Exxon Mobil, but declined to give further details. Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen shot dead a worker at a state plantation in East Langsa sub-district in East Aceh Saturday. 

 

His body, with more than 10 bullet wounds, was found not far from his home. More than 200 people have been killed in Aceh this year. Another 1,000 died last year in the province.—AFP. 

(c)-–Agence France Presse 2001. 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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