Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government should step up gas exploration activity in the country to cover a shortage in natural gas supply to domestic industries, Industry Minister Fahmi Idris said here Friday.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of a state enterprises coordination meeting, Fahmi said a number of industries were currently suffering from a shortage of natural gas supply. Among them were the glove, ceramic, electric bulb and fertilizer industries.
Many of the industries were also exporting their products, the minister said citing as an example the glove industry 80 percent of whose products was marketed overseas.
Because the gas supply to these industries was often not adequate in both quantity and quality, they could not operate maximally, he said. If the gas shortages continued, some of the foreign-financed industries could eventually be relocated to other countries, he said.
So far, there was a shortfall of 0.3 billion cubic feet in the gas supply to industries whereas their gas consumption in 2007 was estimated to total 8.4 biliion cubic feet, Fahmi said.
Earlier, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro had said region-wise there was a natural gas deficit in East Kalimantan, East Java, and in the northern part of Sumatra.
In order to be able to cover those shortages, the government would not extend existing gas export contracts, Purnomo said.
Fahmi said apart from natural gas, the country was also not producing enough steel for its own needs. To meet domestic need for steel, Indonesia still had to import the commodity while in a number of other countries there was an over-supply of steel.
Indonesia`s need for steel was estimated at four million tons a year whereas Krakatau Steel and six other domestic steel producers were only capable of turning out two million tons a year.
In view of this situation, Krakatau Steel had been requested to step up its production by building another plant in Kalimantan starting in June 2007, the minister said.
Meanwhile, the price of steel plates was also going up creating problems for steel plate consumers like ship-building industries, he said.(*)