Indonesia confirms Widyawati as Pertamina CEO
JAKARTA: Indonesia’s government has confirmed Nicke Widyawati as the permanent chief executive of Pertamina and picked a new upstream director amid pressure on the state-owned energy firm to curb imports, boost refining capacity and biodiesel use.
Widyawati became the acting chief executive officer in April after Elia Massa Manik was fired after repeated clashes with the government over fuel price controls, criticism over his handling of an oil spill and for failing to meet mandates on fuel sales.
Widyawati, a former human resources director at the company, is the third CEO at Pertamina in just three years.
“There are three mandates from the government – reduce imports, start development of refineries and implement the B20 biodiesel project,” Widyawati told reporters at a press conference at the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry after her appointment by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The B20 project starting next month will require all diesel fuel to contain at least 20% biocontent, typically palm oil, to boost palm oil consumption, slash fuel imports, and narrow a yawning current account gap.
Indonesia, one of South-East Asia’s biggest fuel importers, also aims to reduce its import bill by improving its ageing domestic refineries, but some projects have been delayed because of financing issues.
The government also appointed Dharmawan Samsu, the country head of BP Plc’s Indonesia unit, as Pertamina’s upstream director.
Indonesia was once a major crude oil producer and exporter, and a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, with output reaching more than 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 1995. Since then, the international oil majors that had dominated the country’s oil development have scaled back their operations because of uncertainty around regulations. The lack of investment in new reserves and rising fuel demand has caused Indonesia to become a net oil importer.
Challenges ahead: An attendant prepares to refuel a motorcycle at a PT Pertamina Persero gas station in Jakarta. Indonesia aims to reduce import bill by improving its ageing domestic refineries, but some projects have been delayed because of financing issues.