Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia plans to focus on its domestic gas pipeline project before moving on to the region's Trans-Asean gas pipeline.
"We will prioritise Indonesia's integrated gas pipeline first before the Asean [Association of South East Asian Nations] project," the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's oil and gas director general, Evita Herawati Legowo, told reporters.
She said the ministry expected the Java pipeline project, which will connect Bekasi, West Java via Cirebon and Gresik in Central Java with Semarang on the north coast of Java, to begin operations in 2014.
As for the Sumatra pipeline project, she said it was expected to connect the gas receiving terminal in Arun with Belawan, both of which are in North Sumatra.
"One of the companies that will construct the pipeline is Pertamina Gas [a subsidiary of state-owned oil and gas company, PT Pertamina]," she said.
Legowo said the ministry had no plan to build pipelines in other regions, such as Kalimantan, because the challenging terrain.
"There are many sources of natural gas in Kalimantan, but the locations are scattered."
The 682.1-kilometre-long Trans-Java pipeline is estimated to cost around US$1.12 billion.
The Trans-Asean gas pipeline, meanwhile, was instigated by a task force, established in 1999, comprising Asean member states.
All 10 member countries of the Asean signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2002 to develop the trans-nation project.
The discourse on the Trans-Asean gas pipeline re-emerged during the 30th Asean Ministers on Energy meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, last week.
The executive director of ReforMiner, Pri Agung Rakhmanto, told reporters that he supported the government's idea to prioritise domestic pipelines.
"For Java, our pipeline network is still disconnected between Gresik and Semarang. In the coming years, there will be some urgency in fulfilling our increasing domestic gas needs," he said.
He added that the Trans-Asean pipeline project was still at the level of an MoU and had as yet unclear targets about when it would be built.
"Even when the Trans-Asean pipeline is completed, it will benefit other countries more than us and our national interests," he said.