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Indonesia sees Exxon gas fields open before June

Indonesia said on Wednesday it expected Exxon Mobil to re-open ...

Indonesia said on Wednesday it expected Exxon Mobil to re-open its gas fields in the troubled Aceh province before June in order to meet critical liquefied natural gas (LNG) commitments.
``We expect Exxon Mobil to resume operations before June,'' director general for oil and gas Rachmat Sudibyo told Reuters.

``The critical time (for meeting commitments) is from July when some shipments may not be fulfilled from Bontang,'' he added referring to the state-owned LNG centre in East Kalimantan on Borneo island.

Exxon Mobil Indonesia -- a unit of U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Corp -- closed its Aceh gas fields last month, halting output at the PT Arun NGL liquefied natural gas plant and forcing utilities in Japan and South Korea to seek alternative supplies.

Exxon has said the temporary shutdown was the cumulative effect of dozens of security incidents over the past two years in the restive province where separatist rebels have been seeking independence for decades.

Exxon has said it will only resume production when security conditions improve.

``The military has said it will help secure Exxon's operation...not only in the gas fields but employees,'' Sudibyo said.

``There is a possibility that two LNG plants can resume operation but we still need to discuss this further with related parties,'' he added.

Sudibyo said it was vital the oil giant resumed LNG production as contracts signed with South Korea and Japan could not be cancelled.

``Therefore we will do our utmost to try to reopen the gas fields before June,'' he said.

Gunfire preceded a blaze that raged at one of Exxon Mobil's closed gas fields in Aceh last week, but the cause of the fire remains unclear.

Indonesia is the world's biggest LNG exporter and its economy relies heavily on oil and gas exports.

Exxon Mobil Indonesia is the country's second-largest LNG producer with total output of 1.6 billion cubic feet per day.