JAKARTA, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Indonesia will give new incentives to oil and gas investors, including more favourable tax treatment and production split, in order to encourage more exploration, the mines and energy minister said on Monday.
Indonesia has been offering new exploration rights and financial incentives for oil investors in a bid to stem a steady decline in production. However, oil industry players have said that the incentives are not enough.
'We will try to find out why investors are less interested in exploring in areas that we offer. We will give better terms and conditions in future,' Darwin Saleh, the new minister, told reporters.
'Indonesia has to adjust its tax from time to time so it becomes more competitive compared with other countries in Asia.'
Saleh said Indonesia signed only 21 oil exploration contracts in 2009, compared with 34 contracts the previous year.
Indonesia has turned into a net importer of crude oil in recent years as production has slumped after a failure to tap new fields fast enough. Its crude oil production has dropped from about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the 1990s to about 800,000 bpd currently.
On Monday, Indonesia signed oil exploration contracts with several companies including Canadian oil firm Talisman Energy Inc ( TLM - news - people ) , which will explore the Andaman III block offshore of North Sumatra.
It also signed contracts for three exploration blocks with a consortium of Canadian Niko Resources and Black Gold Energy. The blocks are: Halmahera Kofiau, offshore South Halmahera; East Bula, offshore of Seram; and West Papua IV, offshore of Papua.
Indonesia also signed an oil exploration contract with state energy firm Pertamina and Malaysia's Petronas for West Glagah Kambuna, offshore North Sumatra.
Separately, Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSA - news - people ) handed over oil data collected in the last century to the Indonesian government.
'This is the geology and geophysics of oil data for Indonesia made between 1890-1965 by Shell,' Darwin Silalahi, PT Shell Indonesia's president director, told reporters.
Saleh said he hoped the data would help Indonesia's current search for oil.
(Reporting by Muklis Ali; Editing by Sara Webb)