Indonesia eyes return to OPEC as oil crisis looms | Singapore Informer

© Provided by AFP Indonesia is seeking to rejoin OPEC to get access to cheaper oil supplies as demand soars and domestic production falls

Indonesia is seeking to rejoin OPEC to get access to cheaper oil supplies as demand soars and domestic production falls, but critics say the move is an unwelcome distraction from efforts to overhaul the country’s troubled energy sector.

Resource-rich Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, was part of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for almost 50 years until suspending its membership in 2009 after becoming a net oil importer.

The switch to becoming an importer came as domestic demand soared and output dropped due to a lack of investment from foreign companies, put off by complex regulations, corruption and growing economic nationalism.

With oil imports surging as the economy booms and the energy sector still in urgent need of reform, the government is looking for cheaper supplies and has taken the unusual step for an oil importer of requesting to rejoin the 12-member exporting cartel.

“It is only natural that we should build relations with exporters,” Energy Minister Sudirman Said said before heading to an OPEC meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in Vienna last month, where he was seeking to have the suspension lifted.

After the meeting, the energy ministry said that some OPEC members had backed Indonesia rejoining.

OPEC has refused to comment but analysts said the group, which has members from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, is likely to welcome an applicant from Asia.

“We understand the application is viewed…

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