Pertamina imports 9m barrels of fuel

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State oil and gas firm Pertamina will import nine million barrels of Premium and diesel fuel this January, or about the same amount it imported in December.

Pertamina fuel division head Djaelani Sutomo said Friday that Pertamina would import 4.5 million barrels of Premium fuel and 3.5 million barrels of diesel in January as it had managed to maintain oil production at 1.006 million barrels per day during the month.

"With the same additional amount of imported oil, we will have enough supplies for January," Djaelani said, adding that its current stock of Premium fuel was sufficient for 23 days, while the diesel would last 16 days and the kerosene 34 days.

He added that the import volume for February would be lower than January's figure as the second month of the year had fewer days.

Indonesia, once a major oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has suffered a major decline in its oil production over the past several years due to the lack of new finds, turning it into a net oil importer.

Its daily refining capacity of 1.06 million barrels is not sufficient to meet domestic fuel demand. This situation forces Pertamina to import about a third of its oil products each year.

Pertamina's import figures have been climbing since 2001, reaching a peak of 159 million barrels of imported oil in 2005, as compared to 122.6 million barrels in 2004, 101.6 million barrels in 2003, 103.6 million barrels in 2002 and 75.6 million barrels in 2001.

Pertamina also said that it would ask the government to delay a regulation cutting sulfur content in diesel so it could prepare one of its refineries for the new specifications.

Pertamina trading and marketing deputy director Hanung Budya said that the Cilacap refinery, which had a capacity of 340,000 barrels a day, was not able to produce diesel with a sulfur content of 0.35 percent.

"We will ask that the government delays the regulation for fuel from Cilacap refinery in Central Java province," Budya said, as quoted by Bloomberg

Other refineries are producing diesel with sulfur content lower than that required.

Hanung declined to say how long the company needed to revamp the Cilacap refinery.

The government in March last year informed Pertamina and other companies that they must cut the sulfur content of diesel sold in Indonesia to 0.35 percent from 0.5 percent out of concern for the environment. The companies were given one year to comply with the new rule.
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