Indonesia may become a liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer by 2020 as a result of delays in a number of gas field development projects, according to a senior official at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.

Local media quoted Naryanto Wagimin, the programme director for the ministry’s oil and gas directorate general, as saying that the country is estimated to have 2.9 trillion cubic metres in proven and 1.3 trillion cubic metres in potential gas reserves, making it the 13 th largest owner in the world and the second-biggest in Asia-Pacific after China.

However, if there was no significant improvement to supply within the next few years, Indonesia, once the world’s largest LNG producer, would become a net importer as of 2020, he warned on the sidelines of the Indonesia Energy Forum.

According to the Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas), gas production reached 192 million cubic metres last year, 52 percent of which was destined for foreign markets.

Given the expected lack of supply, companies, such as oil and gas giant PT Pertamina and Jakarta-listed gas distributor PT PGN, have been preparing to secure gas supplies from overseas.

Pertamina has signed an agreement with US-based Cheniere Energy Inc., related to supplies of LNG. Meanwhile, PGN recently said that it had purchased a stake in a shale gas field in the US.

Diverting gas deliveries from expired contracts with overseas buyers to the domestic market will be an option to handle gas deficit, according to Naryanto, adding that a number of gas-selling contracts with overseas buyers will expire within the next two years.-VNA