Indonesia is set to become a full member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the country’s energy minister confirmed September 8.
According to Energy Minister Sudirman Said, the OPEC chief informed Indonesia that all current members have approved Jakarta’s return to the organization.
“We have received official confirmation from the Secretary General of OPEC that the entire members welcome the reactivation of Indonesia as a full member,” he said, according to Reuters.
He added that Indonesia would be an official participant in the next OPEC meeting, to take place in Vienna on December 4.
The development is hardly surprising. Indonesia has always left the door open for its potential reentry into OPEC since it left the organization in 2009 amid declining oil production and surging oil prices. Prior to 2009, Indonesia had been a member for nearly five decades .
More specifically, as I wrote back in May, Sudirman had said that he would ask President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to consider rejoining OPEC (See: “Will Indonesia Return to OPEC?”). He said that he envisioned a gradual approach for Indonesia’s reentry into OPEC, with its attendance as an observer in the June meeting followed by opportunities to become a full member at a later date. The current timeline is in line with what he had initially outlined.
At the time, Sudirman noted that becoming an OPEC member again would not be a problem because Indonesia is still exporting a small amount of natural gas.
The OPEC Statute states that any country with a “substantial net export” of crude petroleum and which has “fundamentally similar interests” to those of Member Countries may join the group as a full member if accepted by three-fourths of full members, a threshold which Indonesia has cleared. Procedurally, Indonesia’s departure from the group was designated a “suspension,” and Ecuador set a precedent for a return from such a suspension, as Indonesia’s former energy minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro once noted.
OPEC currently has 12 members, with Angola acceding and Ecuador returning to the fold back in 2007.