Jokowi Picks Ex-Transport Chief Jonan for Energy Minister

  • Ignasius Jonan to become third person in role in four months
  • Indonesia president announces changes at ceremony in Jakarta

Indonesian President Joko Widodo tapped former transport minister Ignasius Jonan to become energy and mineral resources minister, the third person to take the post in four months.

The appointment comes as Indonesia discusses the possibility of delaying a ban on processed metals exports that is set to take effect next year. That deferral would allow miners including Freeport-McMoRan Inc. to continue shipping copper concentrates.

Sacked minister Arcandra Tahar returns in the deputy post. Widodo dismissed Tahar, an oil and gas professional who lived in the U.S. for 20 years, in August, less than a month into the post, for his possession of dual Indonesian and U.S. citizenship. Tahar replaced Sudirman Said as energy minister on July 27 as part of a broad cabinet reshuffle.

“Both are the right professionals, bold and have potential to hold a massive reform in the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry,” Widodo, known as Jokowi, said after the inauguration ceremony. “It’s management matters, not personal or politics,” he said when asked the reason for the appointment.

With little experience in the mining and energy sector, Jonan faces the task of stemming declines in oil and gas production amid aging fields and a lack of investment in exploration. Indonesia, the only net importing member of OPEC, is forecast to pump 481,000 barrels per day of crude oil by 2020, down from 820,000 this year, if there’s no discovery of new resources, according to ministerial data.

Jonan was dismissed as transport minister in July after months of delays for a more than $5 billion high-speed rail project between Chinese and Indonesian state-owned companies. He overturned a ban on ride-sharing services like Uber and GO-JEK in December at the request of Jokowi, who said the law shouldn’t make people’s lives more difficult.

— With assistance by Agus Salim Suhana, and Yudith Ho

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