JAKARTA: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Tuesday that Indonesia was considering quitting the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries because it was no longer a net oil exporter.
”Our wells are drying,” he said in the televised speech, adding that the country needed to concentrate on increasing domestic production, which has dropped to less than a million barrels a day even as consumption rises.
The government opened talks Monday on whether it ”should continue to stay with OPEC or withdraw our membership … until we reach a point where we deserve to rejoin that organization,” Yudhoyono told governors and heads of regencies from all over Indonesia.
The country of 235 million people is Southeast Asia’s only OPEC member.
But it has to import oil because of decades of declining investment in exploration and extraction due to corruption and a weak legal system that makes oil companies wary of doing business here.
Indonesia’s oil output has declined steadily from oil production of 1.5 million to 1.6 million barrels a day in the mid-1990s. It produced around 860,000 barrels a day of crude oil last month and recorded a deficit of $794 million in its oil trade accounts.
Raising output could take ”one to three years,” Yudhoyono said.
It is not the first time the country has re-evaluated its OPEC membership, but in past years teams commissioned by the government have recommended staying in the grouping to maintain good relations with other oil producers, especially the heavyweights in the Middle East.
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization made up of 13 oil-producing countries. It was first formed in 1960 by founding members Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.