Bernard Tan: Indonesian Energy Deficit
Comment of the Day

February 10 2014

Commentary by David Fuller

Bernard Tan: Indonesian Energy Deficit

My thanks to the author for his latest interesting, extensively illustrated report.  Here is the opening:

Indonesia joined OPEC in 1962 and left the cartel in 2008 when it realised it was going to become a structural net importer of energy. Funny thing is most people I polled while writing this essay were under the impression that Indonesia is still part of OPEC!

Oil production has been since 2000, from over 1.4 million barrels per day to less than 800,000 by late 2013. There was actually a period from 2007-2010 when production stabilised at just below 1 million bpd but has seen fallen steeply again. See chart below.

The latest data shows that Indonesia crude oil production will continue to plunge. According to Indonesia’s BPPT (Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology), crude oil production could drop to as low as 124 million barrels by 2030 or about 340,000 barrels per day.

The natural consequence is net imports go up as shown in the next chart.

Actually, Indonesia only became a structural net importer of crude oil in late 2012 but since then, the deficit has accelerated. It is now in the region of 4 million barrels per month or more than US$400 million at current oil prices.

According to BPPT, net imports could reach 408 million barrels by 2030 or 34 million barrels per month. That’s nearly $4 billion per month at current oil prices.

The deficit in oil isn’t coming from the demands of electricity generation. As can be seen from the next graph, oil based electricity generation capacity has been roughly stagnant since 2004. Most of the increase in Indonesia’s electricity generation since 2005 has been from coal and to a lesser extent, natural gas.

The culprit is motor vehicles as shown by the next chart of monthly motor vehicle sales in Indonesia. From 2004-2009, Indonesia’s monthly motor vehicle sales oscillated around the 40,000 level. Prior to this, it was around 25,000. But from 2010 onwards, it grew rapidly and in Sep 2013, was approaching the 120,000 level, almost 3x the level of 2004-2009 average levels.

As we all know, once people own motor vehicles, they drive them around, thus needing ever growing amounts of petrol and diesel. Even if motor vehicle sales fall off from now on, the installed base cannot help but grow ever larger. If current sales levels are maintained, more than 100,000 new vehicles will pour onto Indonesia’s roads every month, adding to the demand for imported oil.

David Fuller's view

Here is Bernard Tan’s report.

Indonesia is a resource-rich developing economy with a rapidly increasing oil shortage problem as Bernard Tan points out.  Indonesia appears to have plenty of coal for electricity generation but its soaring rate of consumption must have negative consequences in terms of pollution. 

Indonesia’s BPPT (Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology), quoted above, offers a grim projection for oil imports by 2030, including 34 million barrels per month costing nearly $4 billion per month at current prices!  

This presumably takes no account of technologies currently available, although Indonesia and many other developing countries presumably lack the ability to utilise them.  Indonesia almost certainly has a considerable amount of offshore oil and natural gas deposits, which are accessible with the latest technology.  Perhaps more importantly, it presumably has big commercial quantities of shale gas and oil.  Lastly, Indonesia would benefit enormously from the latest and vastly more efficient solar energy panels, which could be placed on the roofs of most commercial buildings. 

Lastly, Indonesia’s stock market has been a spectacular emerging market performer, not least between 4Q 2008 and 2Q 2013.  However, I have been wary of this market since it became quite overstretched and began to underperform in June of last year. I will most likely remain cautious until I see evidence that Indonesia is both importing and developing the available technologies to reverse its increasing dependence on oil imports.  This could easily take several years.  

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