State energy company Pertamina has been in contact with Japan’s Inpex Corporation about acquiring a 10 percent participating interest in the lucrative Masela gas block off the coast of Maluku province, a Pertamina official has said.
Muhammad Husen, director of upstream business at Pertamina, said on Thursday that they had been in contact with Inpex but that the discussions were still in very early stages.
Inpex signed a 30-year contract in 1998 to develop the Masela block before deciding to relinquish some of the participating interest to other firms.
Inpex holds a 60 percent stake in the block, with Royal Dutch Shell holding 30 percent and the remaining 10 percent in the hands of Energi Mega Persada, which is affiliated with the Bakrie Group.
The block is said to hold some 6.05 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and is expected to produce 4.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year and 13,000 barrels of condensate a day.
“We have initiated the talks, but [we’re] only in the preliminary stages,” Husen said. “As of this moment, there are no decisions from Inpex.”
Husen’s statement came after Evita Legowo, the director general of oil and gas at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said that the Maluku regional government would be given the opportunity to acquire the 10 percent participating interest in the block from Inpex.
The only constraint, Evita said, is that the Masela block is located 19.3 kilometers off Maluku’s coast.
Indonesian regulations state that regional governments will be given the first opportunity to buy participating interests in mineral block if the blocks are located within 6.4 kilometers.
Pertamina, however, has no plans to acquire the participating interest through the regional government, nor is it interested in cooperating with them, Husen said.
“As stated in the government’s instruction, the 10 percent participating interest will go to the regional government. Pertamina, however, still wants to participate, but through a business-to-business approach,” he said.
Inpex Indonesia’s corporate secretary, Alfred Menayang, said that he had heard nothing about Pertamina’s interest in acquiring a participating interest in the Masela block.
“As of this moment, I have yet to receive such information from the headquarters in Tokyo, Japan,” he said.
Inpex plans to build a $19.6 billion floating LNG processing plant with an annual capacity of 2.5
million tons, with 2017 set as the start date for its production.