May 15 (UPI) -- The early start of production from a natural gas project off the coast of Indonesia will help improve the country's financial footing, Eni said.
The Italian energy company said it started production at its Jangkrik natural gas development in the deep waters off the coast of Indonesia ahead of schedule. Production from 10 wells will support local energy needs and help establish the country's position as an exporter of liquefied natural gas.
Claudio Descalzi, the company's chief executive office, said the development from a floating offshore unit makes Jangkrik a hub to develop other regional gas discoveries that could come into production within the next two years.
"We will consolidate our near field exploration strategy and operating model and maximize the integrated development of our projects also in Indonesia," he said in a statement.
Two years ago, Eni signed what it said was a groundbreaking deal to sell LNG from the deepwater field. Indonesia exports about half its natural gas and is one of the largest exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world.
Southeast Asian energy demand is expected to soar by more than 80 percent through 2035. An annual country profile from PricewaterhouseCoopers, however, found that since Indonesia started to steer its gas reserves toward the domestic market in 2006, it dropped from the top LNG exporter to the No. 5 spot, behind Qatar, Malaysia, Australia and Nigeria.
Indonesia last year became a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, though oil production has been waning and the country's focus has largely been on natural gas. OPEC membership was suspended after the organization in late 2016 agreed to cut production in an effort to balance a market tilted toward the supply side.