Cut off gas supplies to S'pore? Indonesia denies remark

Salim Osman, Straits Times 5 Mar 08;

JAKARTA - INDONESIA'S oil and gas regulator has denied a report by state-owned Antara news agency quoting one of its top officials as saying gas supplies to Singapore could be cut off if bilateral relations worsen.

Mr Mochtar Djaya of BP Migas was quoted by Antara as saying in Batam that if gas supplies were cut off to Singapore, power supply for the whole of the island would be affected.

'It's easy for us to turn off the gas pipe from Natuna to Singapore if Singapore gives us problems,' he was quoted as saying, adding that: 'If the supply is cut off, all lights will be switched off.'

Mr Mochtar is the head of security for BP Migas, which is responsible for regulating the upstream production of oil and gas.

Antara noted that his comments followed differences between Indonesia and Singapore on an extradition treaty and a defence cooperation agreement.

When contacted, a spokesman for BP Migas told The Straits Times that Mr Mochtar had denied making the remarks.

The spokesman, who did not wish to be identified, said Mr Mochtar was in Batam for a seminar on security for oil and gas pipelines and had spoken to an Antara reporter there.

However, she said that Mr Mochtar only explained why the Indonesian navy was guarding the 656km-long marine pipeline from Natuna to Singapore.

'There was no mention about cutting off gas supply if bilateral relations worsen. We will issue a statement denying the report tomorrow,' she said.

She added that there was a contract to supply gas from Pertamina to Sembawang Corp which Indonesia was honouring.

According to the Antara report, Pertamina supplies some 9.2 cu m of natural gas a day to Singapore.