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Indonesia's crude output falls to 34-year low in February

Jakarta : Indonesia's crude oil production fell to 942,000 barrels per day (bpd) in February due to technical problems on several wells, an industry source said yesterday.

The output is the Opec (Organisation of Petro-leum Exporting Countries) member's lowest level in 34 years.

The country's crude and condensate output averaged 892,000 bpd in 1971, according to US Government data, the last year that total production fell below 1 million bpd. The data shows the country's struggle to stem its production decline, which forced it to import crude during several months of 2004 and called into question its membership in the Opec.

"There are some technical problems in several oil wells that caused the output to fall in February," the source said.

Another industry source said Caltex Pacific Indonesia, the country's biggest producer, pumped more than 482,000 bpd in February, compared with 473,000 bpd in January.

"There were no significant new oil finds in Indonesia in 2004. Oil contractors are mostly maintaining current production from existing fields," the second source said.

Net importer

"In the end, it will be difficult to add production in 2005. There will be no doubt that Indonesia will be a clear net crude importer in 2005," he added.

The country's condensate output, exempted from Opec quotas, eased to 130,000 bpd in February from 133,000 bpd in January.

Indonesian crude oil production rebounded last year from a July low of 947,000 bpd, reaching as high as 974,000 bpd in December before sliding again. Indonesian crude output was last at the 1 million-bpd mark in November 2003.

Production is expected to fall 6 per cent this year from 2004's 968,000 bpd, the oil ministry has said. Indonesia has assumed crude and condensate production of 1.13 million bpd in its 2005 budget.

Indonesia, Asia-Pacific's only member of Opec, has a quota of 1.399 million bpd under the group's formal production limits of 27 million bpd. It has initiated a review of its membership in the producers' group.

The fall in production and exports affects the country's balance of payments and budget.

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