From Arab News

Riyadh, Jakarta to Set Up Refinery Project in Indonesia
M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News

RIYADH, 19 April 2006 — Dr. Alwi Shihab, a special envoy of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are working on a proposal to set up a joint refinery project in Indonesia. The project will boost cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector, he said here yesterday.

“The officials of the oil companies of the Kingdom and Indonesia have started working on the refinery project,” said the envoy.

Dr. Alwi, who is accompanied by Indonesian officials and businessmen, including a top executive of the Jakarta-based PT Pertamina oil company, said that Saudi Aramco is working with Pertamina on the refinery project. The only Asian member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Indonesia, has been a net importer of crude oil most months of the year. Pertamina, a wholly state-owned enterprise, has 14 subsidiaries including Pertamina Energy Trading Ltd, he said.

The presidential envoy, currently on a visit to the Gulf states, is holding bilateral talks while reviewing preparations made for the forthcoming visit of President Yudhoyono, who arrives here on April 25.

Dr. Alwi met Crown Prince Sultan, minister of defense and aviation, and Prince Salman, governor of Riyadh, here yesterday.

He said that the Indonesian president is scheduled to visit four countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE.

Referring to the plan to set up the joint refinery, Dr. Alwi said: “Both sides had evinced keen interest in the project.”

He, however, refused to divulge more details, saying, “The plan is at a preliminary stage.”

Jakarta, he said, was seeking closer cooperation in energy sector. Indonesia has also signed a deal to extract oil from the $2.6 billion Cepu field, the country’s biggest untapped reserve.

This agreement with Exxon Mobil is expected to provide a huge boost to the economy.

Asked about the problems faced by the Indonesian workers, especially maids, he said: “The officials of the Kingdom and Indonesia were working to improve the whole recruitment process.”

He said the Indonesian labor minister, who would accompany Yudhoyono, would holds talks on the labor issues and will seek solution to the existing problems.

Jakarta, he said, had already drawn up a list of measures aimed at protecting the interests of its workers overseas.

There are about 600,000 Indonesian women workers in Saudi Arabia alone. The Indonesian Embassy receives between 10 to 15 complaints about mistreatment on a daily basis.

More than 850 Indonesian workers lodged complaints of maltreatment last year, according to a report. Unscrupulous private employers, recruitment agents and sponsors are often blamed for a range of labor problems.

More than 200,000 Indonesians have also been coming for Haj every year.
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