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November 18, 2008

Indonesia state firm names candidates for Natuna gas
Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina has named eight international oil and gas companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and France's Total, as its potential partners to develop the giant Natuna D-Alpha gas field, Reuters quoted a senior company official as saying Monday.

Karen Agustiawan, Pertamina upstream director, told Reuters by short text message the other companies are Royal Dutch Shell, Norway's StatoilHydro, Italy's Eni, Malaysia's Petronas and China National Petroleum Corp.

Indonesia's government has appointed Pertamina as the operator of Natuna, but the state company does not have the capacity to develop the gas field alone, which is estimated to need $40 billion in investment.

Agustiawan said Pertamina will keep a 40 percent stake in the Natuna D-Alpha gas project while 60 percent will be shared among the partners.

In July, Pertamina has appointed Wood Mackenzie to advise on picking partners to develop the giant gas field.

Separately, a Pertamina official who declined to be identified, said the eight companies were chosen based on advice from Mackenzie.

Indonesia has said talks with Exxon Mobil, which has controlled the block since the 1990s, had stopped on the offshore gas project due to disagreements on how to split the gas output.

Other unresolved issues with Exxon Mobil on the block included the length of the U.S. firm's contract.

Indonesia has said that Exxon Mobil's contract giving it a 76 percent share has expired, whereas the energy major has said the contract is valid until 2009.

The Natuna D-Alpha block has around 222 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas reserves, of which about 46 tcf are thought to be commercially recoverable.

The block, which is about 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) north of Jakarta and 200 km east of the West Natuna fields that feed gas to Singapore, accounts for about a quarter of Indonesia's total commercially recoverable gas reserves of 182 tcf.

Energy minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said last year the price of Natuna gas was still too high, making it expensive to develop and difficult to sell.

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