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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   17  December 2010

Total, Petronas, Exxon to Tap Indo's Biggest Gas Field

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State-owned oil and gas company Pertamina has announced new partners in developing the largest gas reserves in Asia, East Natuna's oil and gas block. Total SA and Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd., known as Petronas, joined Exxon Mobil Corp. and PT Pertamina as partners in the development of an area that may hold about 40 percent of Indonesia's natural gas reserves.

The government expects the companies to reach a production- sharing agreement for East Natuna, formerly known as Natuna D- Alpha, in the first half of next year, Evita Legowo, director general of oil and gas at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said following the signing of a preliminary accord between state-run Pertamina, Total and Petronas. Exxon signed an agreement with Pertamina on Dec. 3.

The area off Borneo's western coast was discovered in 1973 and Exxon was granted a license to explore for gas seven years later. In 2006, Indonesia revoked the license, saying the U.S. company had failed to provide a feasibility study. Exxon, which had held a 76 percent stake, denied the claim.

"They will discuss the commercial terms, including who will be the operator of the block and the stakes for each company in the project," Legowo said in Jakarta.

Pertamina expects gas production from East Natuna to start in 2021 should the production-sharing contract be signed next year, President Director Karen Agustiawan today. Edy Hermantoro, a director at the energy ministry, said in July that the government expects to see first production in 2018

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