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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     November 2,  2016  

Increasing number of C.Java residents opt for natural gas

Amid rising prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) canisters, residents in Semarang, Central Java, are switching to natural gas channeled by state-owned gas company Perusahaan Gas Negara (PGN), primarily on account of its much lower price.

The benefits of switching to natural gas have been felt by 150 families in the Wahyu Utomo residence complex and 504 families in Melati Baru, both in East Semarang.

“I feel lucky for being able to use natural gas from PGN. When I was running a catering business, I spent around Rp 1.25 million [US$95.88] on LPG canisters every month,” Sumarno, 63, a resident of Tambakaji subdistrict, Ngaliyan district, Semarang, told The Jakarta Post.

Upon becoming a PGN customer in December 2014, the retired employee of the Tugu Regional General Hospital in Semarang saw his costs decrease to only Rp 300,000 per month. “The price gap was quite large,” said Sumarno, who lives in the Wahyu Utomo complex, on Monday.

Even after ceasing business operations, Sumarno remains a PGN customer and incurs gas costs of Rp 60,000 per month.  “Many residents here want to use gas, but in its initial step, PGN served only 150 customers at that time. Actually, many people are still interested in using PGN-channeled natural gas,” said Sumarno.

Sudirman, 74, a retired employee of a cigarette company, shared a similar experience. “I’m retired. For natural gas channeled by PGN, I spend only at the most Rp 65,000 per month,” he said.

Interest is rising for PGN natural gas for its safety and convenience.

“We don’t have to trouble ourselves anymore to buy gas as it is delivered to our house,” said Sumarno.

PGN Semarang head Edy Sukamto said: “For its customers in Semarang, PGN is targeting to serve 4,000 houses.”

Apart from households, PGN Semarang data shows that it serves 13 industries.

Aside from Semarang, several residents in Blora regency are served by PGN.   In Sumber village, Kradenan district, Blora, PGN has installed 164 gas channels to households as of July. The number of customers in Blora is expected to reach 4,000.

If the distribution of natural gas to households and industries expands further, the natural gas distribution industry in Semarang will return to its glory days during the Dutch colonial era in 1857 until after Indonesia’s independence, before the industry closed in 1994.

Using 80-kilometer-long gas pipelines inherited from the Dutch colonial government, PGN served more than 2,000 household customers and four medical institutions, namely Elisabeth, Dr.Karyadi, Telogorejo and Panti Wilasa hospitals.

For large industries, natural gas has been used by power generator PT Indonesia Power in Tambak Lorok, Semarang.
Imam Supriyadi, the maintenance and operational manager of gas pipeline provider PT Kalimantan Jawa Gas at the Tambak Lorok gas meter station in Semarang, said his company had channeled 116 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of natural gas per day.  

Meanwhile in East Java, as of October, PGN serves 17,983 customers covering households, commercial businesses and industries.

Sucipto, the area operation manager of PGN’s Pasuruan branch at the Kalisogo Offtake Station in Jabon district, Sidoarjo regency, East Java, said the company planned to install 200 gas networks to households in a near future.

“Residents want to switch to natural gas because of its low price. A small family only needs 10 cubic meters per month, or around Rp 33,000,” said Sucipto.  

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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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