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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        6  April 2011

Energy firms to tap Sumatra methane

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Perusahaan Tambang Batubara Bukit Asam said on Tuesday that it and its consortium partners planned to extract 50 million standard cubic feet per day of coal-bed methane (CBM) gas from the Tanjung Enim block in South Sumatra by 2013.

Sudharta, PTBA’s corporate secretary, said the block was slated to come online next year. “The production will increase in stages until it meet its maximum capacity of 50 mmscfd by 2013,’’ he said.

PTBA subsidiary Bukit Asam Metana and Pertamina Hulu Energi Metanan Sumatera Tanjung Enim, a unit of the state oil and gas company, each hold a 27.5 percent stake in the project. The remainder is held by Australia’s Dart Energy. Executives have declined to disclose the total investment for the project.

“We need approximately $2 million to $5 million in funds to drill one well,” Pertamina spokesman Mochammad Harun said.

There are 134 wells planned for the project.

Coal-bed methane is natural gas trapped in seams of coal. Indonesia has been struggling to reverse declines in oil output, and hopes to tap CBM as an alternative to expensive crude to fuel factories and power plants. The nation’s reserves of coal-bed methane are estimated at 453 trillion cubic feet, more than double the amount for natural gas, according to the Energy Ministry.

Most of the nation’s CBM blocks are located on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands, both rich in coal reserves.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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