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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        15 January 2011

Indo minister seeks coal price deal

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Darwin Zahedi Saleh, Indonesia's minister of energy and mineral resources, on Friday appealed to local coal companies to sell their fuel to state utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara at below global market prices.

"I hope that all coal companies in Indonesia will sacrifice for the best interest of the nation," he told reporters.

His comments came the day after PLN Chairman Dahlan Iskan said the power company was facing problems securing enough coal to meet the country's growing demand for electricity.

According to an Energy Ministry decree, the price of coal in 2011 would be determined on the 2010 fourth-quarter average. December's average national price was $103.40 per metric ton. But prices at Australia's Newcastle port, which serves as a benchmark for Asia, have risen 8 percent to $129.9 per metric ton as of Jan. 7, up from $119.47 per ton in December.

Coal producers have not reacted positively to being asked to sell at below market rates. The Indonesian Coal Mining Association (APBI) said its members had no choice but to increase prices in line with rising demand.

"International coal prices keep increasing, so we have to sell according to global prices," APBI executive director Supriatna Suhala said on Thursday.

Coal prices are rising as harsh winter weather across the globe and floods in Australia are driving up demand, he added.

PLN has contracts with 53 suppliers to provide 55.8 million tons of coal to fuel its power plants this year, but it failed to lock down prices. Providers have said they would sell their coal through business-to-business contracts, which follow international pricing.

Coal firm Adaro is set to provide 10 million tons of coal to PLN this year. Other suppliers include Arutmin Indonesia, Tambang Batubara Bukit Asam, Kaltim Prima Coal and Berau Coal. Rosan Perkasa, president director of Berau Coal, and Sukrisno, president director of Bukit Asam, did not return calls for comment.

Nur Pamudji, PLN's director of primary energy, said this week that, assuming a 20 percent increase in coal prices, the utility would need more than Rp 2 trillion in additional electricity subsidies this year.

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04 January 2011
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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.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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