Govt to shake up Pertamina President
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Recognizing the urgent need to boost domestic crude production, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged to overhaul state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina.

Speaking in Yangon on Thursday during a five-day regional visit, Yudhoyono said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse, that Pertamina had made a start on the road to restructuring and reform, but had since lost momentum.

"We will overhaul it," said Susilo. "It is now time for us to conduct a real restructuring with clear and measurable targets," said Yudhoyono.

The President further said that the rejuvenation of the state firm would produce greater revenues for the state from the oil and gas sector.

Yudhoyono's comments came amid speculation that the government was considering replacing the board of directors at Pertamina, which has been locked in a dispute with U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil over who gets control of the day-to-day operations of the oil-rich Cepu block.

Rumors of Pertamina president Widya Purnama being fired have been circulating since last year, with then-coordinating minister for the economy Aburizal Bakrie saying that the board would be replaced last August. State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto supported the idea and cited the company's "poor performance" as the reason behind the mooted shake-up of the board.

Among the candidates reportedly being considered for the top post in Pertamina are the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's director general of oil and gas, Iin Arifin Takhyan, and Pertamina's director of trading and marketing, Ari Soemarno.

Widya, who has been with Pertamina since August 2004 after previously heading up the country's second largest telecommunications company, PT Indosat, has also threatened to resign if the government selected ExxonMobil to operate the Cepu block.

Yudhoyono compared Pertamina to its Malaysian counterpart, Petroliam Nasional Bhd., which had leapfrogged from being a late starter after Pertamina to one of the star performers of the global oil industry.

Pertamina and its partners produced some 131,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) on average last year, and aim to raise output to 149,000 bpd this year.
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