TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Natuna Sea in the vicinity of the Riau Archipelago, which was recently claimed by the Chinese Government, houses the largest natural gas and oil field, according to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKK Migas) communication and program head,Wisnu Prabawa Taher.
Wisnu revealed that the natural reserves contained under the Natuna Sea could potentially reach dozens of trillion cubic feet (TCF).
"Natuna's significant potential is currently in East Natuna where its gas reserve is around 46 TCF," said Wisnu in a text message to Tempo on Monday, January 6, 2020.
This level of reserve highly outnumbers the ones located in Maluku's Masela Block and the Makassar Strait, which currently contains up to 16 TCF of oil and gas reserve. Meanwhile, the Indonesia Deepwater Development (IDD) located at the Makassar Strait houses 2.6 TCF of oil and gas reserve.
However, despite having a large number of reserves, Natuna waters also contain a high amount of carbon dioxide levels where the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry (ESDM) records found that the CO2 levels in Natuna reached 72 percent.
In the past, the Indonesian government was adamant to launch its gas megaproject on the Natuna Sea and trusted the project to state-owned energy firm PT Pertamina as the lead consortium at the time. The government had also partnered with ExxonMobil and PTT EP Thailand which led to a joint effort among the three firms to conduct an in-depth study back in 2016.
Following the results, ExxonMobil decided to back out as it did not perceive the reserves in Natuna to be worthy of long-term investment
Moreover on the dispute in the Natuna borders, China and Indonesia's relations briefly heated as Indonesia's North Natuna border is being claimed by China based on the country's Nine-Dash Line, which the Indonesian Government strongly opposes.
The Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Sumadi says China's Nine Dash-Line claim cannot be used as a legal basis as it is not acknowledged under the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
"We do not acknowledge the Nine Dash-Line as it is claimed by china unilaterally, which does not bear a legal basis acknowledged by the international law, mainly the UNCLOS 1982," said Retno Marsudi regarding the Natuna Sea dispute on January 3, 2020.
FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA | BISNIS