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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        3 February 2011

Indonesia urged to up oil price estimate

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An analyst has urged the government to change the oil price assumption within the state budget in order to reflect the increasing crude prices triggered by the political upheaval in Egypt.

Pri Agung Rakhmanto, an energy analyst with the Reforminer Institute, said the unrest in Egypt may send the crude oil price sharply higher during the first quarter this year.

A big jump in oil prices occured on Monday. With investors growing concerned about oil supplies and their mobility, prices rose $2.85 per barrel to $92.19 in the New York.

Pri said it was safe to assume oil prices wold continue climbing as high as $100 per barrel in the first quarter. "The riots are only a trigger to the market's expectations," he said.

Another trigger may come in the aftermath of the Egyptian unrest, he said, such as if the protests result in a blockade in the Gulf of Suez or if OPEC refuses to raise its oil production.

"The price will keep increasing if the riots go on that way," he said.

Oil prices should stay between $80 per barrel and $90 per barrel, Pri said, above the government's assumption of $80 per barrel in the state budget.

According to Pri's calculations, rising oil prices will increase the fiscal risk in the state budget and add approximately Rp 14 trillion (US$1.5 billion) to the government's budget deficit.

The government allocated Rp 88.9 trillion for fuel subsidies in its 2010 budget and Rp 95.9 trillion this year.

However, Pri said rising prices would increase subsidy requirements by Rp 66 trillion while only adding an extra Rp 52 trillion to the state coffers.

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