Indonesia Seeks Return to OPEC Seven Years After Leaving Group

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Indonesia is seeking to rejoin OPEC seven years after rising reliance on imports prompted the nation to withdraw from the group supplying about 40 percent of the world’s oil.

The Asian country’s inclusion would help to strengthen ties between oil producers and consumers, Indonesian Energy Minister Sudirman Said said in interviews with Bloomberg in Vienna on Thursday. The request is to be a full member, he said, declining to say how long the process will take.

“In the spirit of dialogue between producing and consuming countries, we could bridge these two groups,” Said said. “We had a chance to meet with the members in bilateral meetings, and I think we are very welcome. They are very warm, very responsive.”

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to suspend Indonesia’s membership in September 2008 at the country’s own request, almost half a century after the nation joined. The country pumped 882,000 barrels a day of oil in 2013 and consumed almost twice as much, according to BP Plc.

That level of output would make it OPEC’s fourth-smallest oil producer, monthly data compiled by Bloomberg show, and the group’s only net importer.

“I don’t think there is a concern, because according to the secretary general there is no requirement that we have to produce” at a particular level, according to Said. The nation wouldn’t expect to receive a production quota were it to rejoin, he said.

Love Indonesia

OPEC Secretary-General Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said he is aware of Indonesia’s request. “We love Indonesia” and its membership was only suspended, never terminated, he said.

Ecuador, currently OPEC’s second-smallest oil producer, suspended its membership in December 1992 and rejoined in October 2007, according to the group’s website.

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran’s oil minister, said he would welcome Indonesia’s return. Iraq’s Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said it would be “great” if the Asian nation rejoined, which could happen before OPEC’s next meeting.

Brent for July settlement slipped $1.77 to $62.03 a barrel Thursday on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the lowest close since April 15.

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