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Iran backs Indonesia as OPEC member

Indonesia left 12-member group because it was no longer a net oil exporter.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Iran supports Indonesian bid to rejoin OPEC after six-year absence. Photo courtesy of SHANA/Hasan Hosseini.
Iran supports Indonesian bid to rejoin OPEC after six-year absence. Photo courtesy of SHANA/Hasan Hosseini.

TEHRAN, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Iranian government welcomes the eventual return of Indonesia to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iran's oil minister said.

Indonesia in September submitted a request to reactivate its membership in OPEC.

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"We hope that with Iran's support in the upcoming OPEC meeting, Indonesia's return to the organization can be finalized," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said. "Then, Tehran and Jakarta can resume their bilateral cooperation in the global oil market."

Iran's oil minister welcomed his Indonesian counterpart, Sudriman Said, to the capital to discuss how the two re-emerging producers can work together. Zangeneh said Iran is interested in working with Indonesia in the crude oil and liquefied natural gas markets.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas production in Indonesia increased by more than 20 percent in the decade ending in 2012. The country exports about half its natural gas and is one of the largest exporters of LNG in the world.

Italian energy company Eni and its partners at French energy company Engie, formerly GDF Suez, and its Indonesian partners signed a deal to purchase and sell up to 1.4 million tons of LNG per year from the Jangkrik complex starting in 2017. Eni is among the companies eyeing a return to the Iranian energy sector.

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In September, OPEC statement said its members would "welcome [Indonesia's] return." Indonesia left OPEC in 2009 because it was no longer a net exporter. The Iran government, meanwhile, expects sanctions relief could eventually make it the second-largest producer in OPEC, after Saudi Arabia.

"Indonesia can also invest in Iran's oil, gas and petrochemical projects," Iran's oil minister said. "Indonesia is developing and progressing, and both countries enjoy mutual capabilities to be activated."

Before leaving for Iran, the Indonesian oil minister said it was "very important" to interact with potential trading partners as it works to rejoin the 12-member production group. He said the country aims to make a future petition to join the western-backed International Energy Agency as well.

Sanctions pressures are easing on Iran, through investments may by inhibited by economic obstacles in the country. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Iran was still engaging in "destabilizing" activity on the international stage that made it a persistent target for sanctions.

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