Govt Pulls Out of OPEC

LEGIAN/VIENNA ~ Indonesia has officially left the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the cartel announced on Wednesday after a meeting in Vienna.“The conference regretfully accepted the wish of Indonesia to suspend its full membership in the organization and recorded its hope the country would be in a position to rejoin the organization in the not-too-distant future,” OPEC said in a statement at the end of a meeting here.

Indonesia, one of the smallest members of OPEC and the only Asian one, announced in late May that it intended to withdraw from the oil exporters’ cartel as it had become a net oil importer.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said, however, that his country could rejoin if production increased in line with an ongoing effort to boost capacity after years of declining investment.

“If our production comes back again to a level that gives us the status of a net oil exporter, then I think we can go back to OPEC,” he said.

While other OPEC members have enjoyed windfall profits on the back of high global oil prices, Indonesia, which joined the organization in 1961, has been unable to get enough of its 4.37 billion barrels in proven reserves to the market.

Some Indonesian officials have criticized OPEC’s lack of concern for its smaller members, which suffer from the cartel’s reluctance to boost supply.

Analysts have also accused past governments of failing to manage Indonesia’s abundant oil and gas riches, adding that the withdrawal should be a wakeup call to Indonesia to boost its spending on crumbling infrastructure.

Oil production in the archipelago has been in decline since 1995, Yusgiantoro said.

The government earlier this year lowered its oil sales estimate for 2008 to 927,000 barrels a day from a previous 1.034 million barrels.

But its departure is more than compensated for by the arrival of Angola, which produces 1.85 million barrels a day; and Ecuador, which produces 500,000.

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