Oil giants bow to BI demands: Central bank

Satria Sambijantoro and Amahl S. Azwar, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Tue, March 05 2013, 9:27 AM

After prolonged refusals, the nation’s foreign oil and gas contractors have complied with a Bank Indonesia’s (BI) rule requiring them to deposit dollar-based export earnings in local banks, an official says.

Compliance came only two weeks after the firms said they might seek international arbitration to settle their dispute with the central bank, claiming that BI’s regulation contradicted their production sharing contracts (PSCs) with the government.

“The oil and gas contractors have agreed to comply with BI’s rule on export proceeds,” BI spokesperson Difi Johansyah said in a statement on Monday. “All of them.”

The firms agreed to use local banks to channel export earnings in the future, Difi added.

The dispute between the central bank and the firms centered on BI Regulation (PBI) No. 13, introduced in late 2011, which stipulated that exporters operating in Indonesia must report and channel their dollar-based export proceeds to local banks within 90 days of receiving earnings.

The regulation is expected to improve dollar liquidity in the local currency market and boost the stability of the rupiah. It is also designed to help BI match foreign exchange fund data with the flow of goods to improve reporting on imports and exports, aiding the central bank’s policy making.

The regulation, however, was met by opposition and non-compliance by foreign oil and gas firms, many of who were reportedly “disgruntled” when ordered to comply, according to BI Governor Darmin Nasution.

Top oil and gas executives had different spins on BI’s statement when contacted by The Jakarta Post for confirmation.

France-based Total E&P Indonesie spokesman Kristanto Hartadi said the largest gas producer in Indonesia had already complied with the regulations.

“The mechanism is that we will regularly provide BI with reports on our oil shipments to headquarters in Paris, as well as the funds that have been returned to Indonesia in the form of investment, which will be channeled through state-owned BNI [Bank Negara Indonesia] in Jakarta,” Kristanto said, citing PBI No. 14 as the legal framework for giving local banks authority to manage dollar-based funds.

Total’s oil shipments from Indonesia were valued between US$500 million and $600 million last year, Kristanto said, while the firm, which operates the gas-rich Mahakam block in East Kalimantan, annually invested around $2.5 billion in Indonesia.

US-based ExxonMobil Indonesia vice president for public and government affairs Erwin Maryoto said that the firm would comply with the regulation, adding that the firm was still “in consultation” as to how it would comply.

Meanwhile, Yanto Sianipar, the vice president for government policy and public affairs for Chevron Pacific Indonesia, the largest crude oil producer in Indonesia, said that the firm “respects and complies the terms of our production-sharing contracts [PSCs] and relevant laws and regulations in Indonesia”



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