Human About Gas

Indonesia’s eastern promise

 By Ian Martin
About gas

I recently went around asking my friends and colleagues what they knew about Indonesia. Most of them had never been there, so the answers I got back differed from the relatively certain to the subjectively speculative – it’s a republic off the tail of South Eastern Asia that straddles the Equator, it possesses a bio-diversity which ranges from the giant gridlock of the capital Jakarta to the pristine rainforest of Sumatra, it has a large and expanding human population as well as some faunal rarities like the Komodo Dragon and the Sumatran tiger…

However, something I didn’t hear was that Indonesia is also synonymous with big numbers – very big numbers. When I checked, I was surprised to find out that it is the world’s biggest island nation, made up of more than 15,000 islands in nearly 2 million square kilometres. It has a population of some 261 million – which itself makes Indonesia the fourth most populous country on Earth and the huge sprawl of the capital city and environs makes Jakarta’s 30 million population the second biggest urban agglomeration in the world after Tokyo/Yokohama. And since I work for an energy company with a significant interest in Indonesia, I wondered how the country could service these impressive numbers, and I discovered that Indonesia has recently stoked ambitions to become a major energy hub, with lots going on to turn these ambitions into much more of a concrete reality. This being so, what would you like to know?
A good start point may be to look at the globe. Indonesia’s geography places it in what we might be tempted to call a ‘sweet spot’. Sweet in that it lies near (relatively speaking) the energy hungry markets of India, South East Asia, China and Japan, but crucially, near (again, it’s all relative) its own gas producing seas and those of Western Australia. As it stands, the IEA tells us that Indonesia is a net exporter of natural gas and a net importer of both crude and refined oil products, but it is actively seeking to rebalance it position. This is especially true in the wake of Indonesia’s sliding energy production, coupled with its rapidly rising consumption. There is further relevance in this in that as the world looks to transition towards cleaner energy sources, the role of gas becomes ever more central to the future, low-carbon energy paradigm. It is in this that Indonesia is ideally placed as both a hub and a supplier.

The Jangkrik field

Indonesia’s role in the regional energy paradigm is unquestionable, both for its geographical fit and the fact that its regulatory system works equally well for the government as it does for other stakeholders. And it is in this key region we find the Jangkrik field, a remarkable example of what happens when everyone pulls in the same direction. Situated in the the deepwater Muara Bakau block, the Jangkrik field commenced its execution phase in 2014 with the drilling of 10 wells. Remarkably, and earlier than expected, these 10 wells, which are linked to a Floating Production Unit (FPU), commenced production on 15th May 2017, in pretty much record time for such a project, and which is now hovering around the 650 mmcf/d mark. The gas is processed by the FPU and then sent through the pipeline to an onshore plant that is connected with the East Kalimantan transport system, and which feeds the Bontang liquefaction plant and then sold on to markets such as those in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

New gas

This is merely one field, Jangkrik – but Indonesia’s hunger to expand does not stop there. In April this year, and only three months from its submission, the Indonesian government approved the PoD (Plan of Development) of the Merakes gas field, which is estimated to hold something like 2 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of lean gas in place. This field will use the nearby facilities of Jangkrik, keeping costs and timeframes under control, as well as providing further validation of Eni’s successful near-field exploration and appraisal strategy, which looks to explore around existing facilities to capture opportunities both from a resource and amenity point-of-view. On this latter point, the Bontang plant has a capacity of something like 21 million tons per year, but is currently using about 12 MTPA, so spare capacity is aplenty. And it does not finish there. In April, the East Ganal deep offshore exploration block in the Kutei basin was awarded 100% to Eni, where it is hoped to find gas that will both bolster Indonesia’s domestic requirement and further boost the country’s export potential.

Rumah Singgah

On a production level, the whole story resonates with examples where pieces of the puzzle have been added on, with an associated increase in the utilisation of existing facilities. You might call this a sustainable way of working – and it is. However, one should also realise that sustainable ways of doing things are not just a purely industrial concern in Indonesia. In an area of such undeniable natural and cultural delicacy, the only way forward is by ensuring the understanding and engagement of the unique characteristics of the local stakeholders. The need to do this resulted in the Community Involvement and Development (CID) programme which in turn brought about an initiative that promotes communication in a permanent meeting and dialogue space called the “Rumah Singgah” (Shelter House) in Handil Baru. It is in this space that members of the local community, the authorities and the company meet and discuss everything connected to the area, the community and the operations being carried out. Through a simple act of constant sharing, a level of respect and trust is formed that makes all parties more involved in developments which touches on the patrimony of all concerned.

The community

Another aspect that is the subject of almost perpetual discussion is the extremely delicate issue of the prospect that communities may become over dependent on the newly arrived activities, with the concomitant risk that more traditional aspects and facets of life get eroded or discarded. One example of where this is being mitigated is in Samboja, East Kalimantan, in a program that supports traditional lifestyles through the promotion of sustainable fishing methods using eco-friendly equipment and which encourages exchange on methods and practices to support an activity that was central to the community long before other resources were discovered.
There is a similar recognition of the need to promote awareness through numerous and regular health and education campaigns which are carried out on the ground all over Indonesia to increase consciousness on topics as diverse as the Zika virus, sexually transmitted diseases and heat stress. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg where local stakeholder involvement come into play. It is axiomatic that no country or community should be put under stress with the arrival of something that is so capable of bringing great change. It is the basic right of every community member to feel that the project is also theirs and not just the property of some distant global organisation. It is certainly true that the huge numbers are impressive when it comes to energy production, but when it comes to making sure that the communities in countries like Indonesia are free to grow and develop – perhaps it is the small numbers that assume the greatest importance.

READ MORE: Treasure Island by Simonetta Sandri

about the author
Ian Martin
Internal Communications Manager, Eni International Resources Limited, Story teller from the Eniverse