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Indonesian Energy Minister for New OPEC Secretary-General?

Sudirman Said

Media outlet Sputnik International has cited unnamed sources as saying that Indonesian Energy Minister Sudirman Said is expected to be elected the next secretary-general of OPEC, at its meeting next week in Vienna.

Current secretary-general, Libyan national, Abdalla Salem el-Badri was expected to retire three years ago, but has retained the post thanks to an ongoing disagreement over who should succeed him.

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Prior to taking the ministry post in 2014, Said held senior positions in Indonesian state-owned oil and natural gas corporation Petramina and mining company Petrosea.

Indonesia announced the re-entry into the oil cartel in May last year and rejoined OPEC in December.

It’s an odd coupling, as Indonesia doesn’t fit the pattern of other OPEC members. To the contrary, the country is a net importer of oil and consumes almost double what it produces.

Indonesia’s OPEC membership had come to an end in the year 2009 when its crude oil imports far exceeded its crude oil exports.

Indonesia still exports some crude oil, although its imports of refined products make it a net importer. It is also a large exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

But energy demand growth makes Indonesia attractive, and from a commercial perspective, it makes sense for OPEC to invest in Indonesia. Indonesia’s demand for energy is growing faster than most of the other Asian economies. As OPEC members scramble hard to find new markets for its crude oil, Indonesia is emerging as one of the hottest energy markets in Asia.

The Indonesian government is now trying hard to revive its ailing oil and gas sector and is looking to find new investors for upgrading both its upstream and downstream sector.

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Oil giants like Chevron, Total, Conoco Phillips, BP and ExxonMobil are already present in Indonesia with Chevron being the largest producer of oil in Indonesia as on 2013

The country is set to offer 21 oil and gas blocks through an open tender later this year. In addition to the more attractive tender scheme, the Indonesian government also plans to offer incentives to investors for oil and gas investment. The country has missed its 2015 oil production target thanks to project delays that have seen more than 10 companies revise production targets.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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