Indonesia Estimates 2003 Production at 463.5 Million Barrels

Indonesia said its output for 2003 will be 463.5 million barrels of oil or 1.270 million barrels per day of crude oil and condensate as compared to 1.212 million bpd in 2002. Indonesia, Asia's only OPEC member, is struggling to boost oil production and find new reserves by opening exploration areas in early 2003.

"There is falling production in some oil wells, including in Caltex, because of ageing fields and also there are some security problems," Director General Oil and Gas Iin Arifin Takhyan said. "We estimate oil production in 2003 is 463.5 million barrels. This is production of crude and condensate in total. The output is a little bit higher than 2002 because West Seno will start production from June," he added.

The West Seno field in Makassar Strait, operated by Unocal Corp, would begin with around 20,000 bpd of oil output and then gradually increase to around 40,000.

Indonesia produced 1.03 million bpd of crude in March, compared with 1.05 million bpd in February. The country's condensate output was down to 128,000 bpd in March from 147,000 bpd in February. Caltex Pacific Indonesia, a unit of Chevron Texaco and Indonesia's biggest oil contractor, produced 489,000 bpd in March, compared with 491,000 bpd in February.

Iin said more than 20 foreign and local companies had taken forms to bid for oil exploration areas. "We are optimistic that there will be more oil contracts signed this year. The areas are promising for hydrocarbons and also natural gas," he said. Earlier this year, Indonesia opened 11 areas for tender, including five offshore in East Java, one offshore in North Central Java, two in North Bali, two in Jambi province on Sumatra island and one in East Kalimantan on Borneo island.