ExxonMobil Does Not Plan to Evacuate Staff from Aceh

ExxonMobil said its operations had not been affected by the Indonesian Government's military offensive in the province of Aceh and does not have plans to evacuate its staff. ExxonMobil is the second-largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Indonesia and operates four onshore and one offshore gas field in Aceh province. "ExxonMobil is maintaining normal gas and condensate production levels in Aceh," a company spokesman said.

LNG output from resource-rich Aceh is estimated to be worth $2 billion a year and Indonesia's energy minister reiterated on Monday the military operation would not disrupt output. The minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, said security had been beefed up the vital Arun LNG complex, which produces 11 million metric tons a year using supplies from Exxon's gas fields. Exxon owns 30 percent of the LNG plant. "Security for Exxon and the LNG plant have been improved, so there's no problem. Up to this time, production is still going because this project is important not only for the government but also for Aceh," the minister told reporters. Exxon's gas fields are in the rebel stronghold of Lhokseumawe where, according to officials on Monday, around 700 marines came ashore. The fields produce 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and 25,000 barrels of condensate.

Just after midnight on Sunday, President Megawati Sukarnoputri gave the go-ahead for war against the rebels after last-ditch peace talks in Tokyo collapsed, leaving a landmark peace agreement welcomed by Aceh's four million people in ruins. Military chief General Endriartono Sutarto had clear instructions for his troops as they embarked on one of their biggest campaigns since the 1975 invasion of East Timor. "Their job is to destroy the armed forces of GAM through to their roots," Sutarto said, referring to the Free Aceh Movement.