Indonesia Table of Contents

Indonesia's oil production was formally governed by a quota allocation from OPEC. At the March 1991 OPEC ministerial meeting, Indonesia's quota was set at 1.445 million barrels per day, below the country's estimated production capacity of 1.7 million barrels per day. Indonesia's quota represented about 6 percent of total OPEC production. About 70 percent of Indonesia's annual oil production was exported on average during the late 1980s, but domestic consumption was increasing steadily and reached half of annual oil production by 1990.

Indonesia's oil industry is one of the oldest in the world. Oil in commercial quantities was discovered in northern Sumatra in 1883, leading to the establishment of the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van Petroleum-bronnen in NederlandschIndiŽ (Royal Dutch Company for Exploration of Petroleum sources in the Netherlands Indies) in 1890, which was merged in 1907 with the Shell Transport and Trading Company, a British concern that had been drilling in Kalimantan since 1891, to form Royal Dutch Shell. Royal Dutch Shell dominated colonial oil exploration for more than thirty years. By 1911 Royal Dutch Shell operated concessions in Sumatra, Java, and Kalimantan (then called Borneo), and Indonesian oil was almost 4 percent of total world production. Indonesia's most important oil fields, the Duri and Minas fields in the central Sumatran basin, were discovered just prior to World War II by Caltex, a joint venture between the American companies Chevron and Texaco, although production did not begin until the 1950s. By 1963 the Duri and Minas oil fields, located in Riau Province near the town of Dumai, accounted for 50 percent of oil production.

The postindependence government increased its control over the oil sector during the 1950s and 1960s by increasing operations of several government-owned oil companies and by stiffening the terms of contracts with foreign oil firms. In 1968 the government companies--Indonesian Oil Mining company (Pertamin), National Oil Mining Company (Permina), and the National Oil and Gas Company (Permigan)--were consolidated into a single operation, the National Oil and Natural Gas Mining Company (Pertamina). At this time, a new form of contract--the production-sharing contract--was introduced. A production-sharing contract split total oil production between the contractor and the government, represented by Pertamina, and allowed the government to assume ownership of structures and equipment used for exploration and production within Indonesia. Indonesia's contract terms were considered among the toughest in the world, with the government in most cases receiving 85 percent of oil produced once the foreign company recovered costs.

Annual oil production in Indonesia peaked in 1977 at over 600 million barrels. The official price of Minas crude was then about US$14 per barrel, a substantial rise from the 1973 price of about US$4 per barrel as a result of OPEC's successful market manipulations. Prices continued to soar in 1981, reaching US$35 per barrel, and oil exports peaked at US$15 billion, or about 70 percent of total export earnings. In 1982, however, production declined, reaching a low of 460 million barrels and the oil market began to weaken that same year, when Indonesia's Minas crude was priced at US$29. The market collapsed in 1986, bringing the Minas price to below US$10 per barrel. Recovery of oil prices began slowly, and by 1989 Minas was priced at about US$18 per barrel. Total production in 1989 was almost 500 million barrels, and oil exports were valued at US$6 billion.

Indonesia had proven oil reserves in 1990 equal to 5.14 billion barrels, with probable reserves of an additional 5.79 billion barrels. Throughout the archipelago there were sixty known basins with oil potential; only thirty-six basins had been explored and only fourteen were producing. The majority of unexplored areas were more than 200 meters beneath the surface of the sea. Indonesia's oil reserves were usually found in medium- and small-sized fields, so that continued exploration was vital to maintain production and known reserves.

In 1989 and 1990, the government loosened some provisions for new contracts to stimulate exploration, particularly in frontier areas. Improved oil market conditions in the late 1980s also contributed to a surge in production-sharing contracts. Fifty-seven of the 100 contracts active in 1992 were signed from 1987 to 1991. The newer contracts committed US$2.8 billion in exploration during the 1990s. Production from existing oil fields was still dominated by Caltex's operations in Sumatra, which accounted for 47 percent of Indonesian oil production in 1990. Twenty foreign oil companies, primarily United States-based, were active producers in 1990.

Pertamina operated eight petroleum refineries with a total capacity to produce 400,000 barrels per day of a variety of distilled products for domestic use and export. The Indonesian government subsidized the domestic prices of distillates, and in spite of several price increases during the 1980s, prices in Indonesia were well below international market prices by 1990. For example, kerosene, used primarily for cooking, was priced at Rp190 per liter following a 15 percent price hike in May 1990; the price of kerosene in Singapore was then equivalent to Rp643 per liter and in the Philippines, Rp512 per liter. The total cost of fuel subsidies amounted to Rp2.6 trillion (US$1.3 billion) in FY 1990. Pertamina forecast an increase in domestic demand for distilled products of 7 percent per year, and hoped to meet this demand and, simultaneously, to expand exports. Four new refineries with a total capacity of 500,000 barrels per day intended entirely for export were in various stages of planning in 1990.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress