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JAYAPURA, Papua (Asia Pulse/Antara/Irian News, Dec 27) - The Indonesian government is seeking to accelerate the Tangguh gas field project in the Bintuni Bay, Manokwari district, Papua province, which holds some 18.3 trillion cubic feet of liquid natural gas (LNG).

"We are seeking a mechanism, the fast track," said Minister for Energy and Mineral Sources Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

President Megawati Soekarnoputri said last week he expects the project will be completed by early 2007.

The president was attending a celebration to mark the start of the gas field project, co-sponsored by the state- oil company, Pertamina, and British oil and gas giant, BP.

According to Minister Purnomo, this gas field project would be complementary to those in Arun, Nanggro Aceh Darussalam province, and Bontang, East Kalimantan province.

The project is expected to cost about US$2 billion. The gas exploration began in 1994. The volume of gas reserve in Merauke reached about 14.4 trillion cubic feet of LNG.

In the first stage, the Tangguh's LNG would be exported to Fujian, China with total capacity of 2.6 million tons a year, Purnomo said.

The LNG would also be used to meet the domestic demand, especially in Java island, he added.

Meanwhile, Papuan Governor JP Solossa said he had requested the BP Indonesia to conduct a thorough study about the implementation of its project to help it not repeat the "bad experience" of PT Freeport Indonesia.

BP Indonesia holds 50 per cent of the large gas reserves while the rest is divided between Mitsubishi, Nippon, British Gas, Karematau Corp and Nissho Iwai.

The LNG will be drawn from the Weriagar and Vorwata fields, and then siphoned off through submarine pipelines to the plants in Tanah Merah.

The project, as ever explained by spokesman for Tangguh BP Indonesia, Erwin Maryoto, would pass through three administrative regions in Babo subdistrict where the plant is located, while Bintuni and Aranday subdistricts are the locations of the offshore mining operations.

December 31, 2002

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