The Indonesian state-owned oil company Pertamina said Tuesday it has asked ExxonMobil to prepare for a partial resumption of production from gas fields in Aceh shut down for security reasons earlier this month.
ExxonMobil closed down three of its five gas fields in Aceh on March 9, citing a drastic deterioration in security due to violence involving separatist rebels.
"This morning I met with the leadership of the company and I have already asked them to prepare for that," Pertamina director Baihaki Hakim was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying.
He said he had asked ExxonMobil to prepare a "limited LNG (liquefied natural gas) operation," saying that security conditions in Aceh were gradually improving.
Hakim said ExxonMobil was expected to be able to produce at about half its capacity."In normal conditions ExxonMobil can produce 10 LNG cargoes from four (LNG) trains. If two trains can be quickly brought into operation, five cargoes can be produced," Hakim said.
ExxonMobil, he said, was currently conducting a study to see how soon, and under what conditions it could resume limited operations from its closed fields.The outcome of this was expected to be known in the next two to three days.
Pertamina, he said, would work with local authorities in Aceh to support such plans by creating safe and secure conditions.
The shutdown forced a similar curtailment in production at other major industries in the area which receive gas supplies from ExxonMobil's Arun gas field.
It has also threatened Indonesia's 100 million dollar a month LNG exports to Japanese and South Korean buyers.
The Indonesian government has deployed more than 2,000 men to guard the company's fields and facilities.
Aceh has been the scene of continuing violence between government forces and separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) which has been fighting for a free Islamic state there since the mid-1970s.
Over 300 people have been killed in the violence in Aceh this year.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)