“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Monday, December 31, 2007

BHP plans nickel project in Indonesia

Jamie Freed, smh.com.au

BHP BILLITON has quietly advanced plans to start building a $US2 billion-plus ($2.2 billion-plus) nickel laterite project in Indonesia within three years, even though the project falls outside its main development pipeline presented to investors this month.

BHP has posted job advertisements for the Pearl project in an unspecified part of eastern Indonesia on its website. It is searching for a mining manager, community relations head and other senior managers.

The company said it expected the "world-class" development, comprising mines, a large processing plant and associated infrastructure, to start construction within three years. Given laterite projects take three to four years to build, BHP is apparently planning to start production in 2014 or 2015.

A presentation by BHP's chief executive, Marius Kloppers, this month did not list the project on the main development pipeline. But a slide on the company's nickel division contained a bubble representing a $US2 billion-plus investment for an "eastern Indonesian facility" - presumably the Pearl project - as having "future project potential".

BHP owns a nickel laterite project in eastern Indonesia - the Gag Island project off Papua. The controversial development has been placed on indefinite hold given the deposit resides in a protected forest.

A BHP spokeswoman, Emma Meade, was unable to provide any details on the Pearl project beyond those in the job advertisements, but she said it was a separate project from Gag Island.

BHP is nearly finished constructing its $US2.2 billion Ravensthorpe nickel laterite project in Western Australia, which is expected to produce 50,000 tonnes of nickel a year after it reaches its full production rate. Like many other nickel projects around the world - including Vale's Goro project and Xstrata's Koniambo project, both in New Caledonia - Ravensthorpe experienced a series of delays and cost blow-outs.

The BHP takeover target Rio Tinto, which does not produce nickel, this month approved development of the $US300 million Eagle nickel sulfide mine in the United States. Nickel sulfide deposits are more simple to develop than laterite deposits, which require high-tech processing, but a shortage of sulfide deposits has led miners to construct large laterite plants in recent years.

Rio also plans to develop the $US2 billion Sulawesi nickel laterite project in Indonesia. Although contract discussions with the Indonesian Government have led to several delays, this month Rio said it was in "final" negotiations. Rio said Sulawesi would produce up to 46,000 tonnes of nickel a year after starting production in 2015.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

PLN extends network to Thousand Islands

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Some residences of Thousand Islands regency will soon enjoy a spark of light at a cheaper price, as state-owned electricity company PLN will extend its service there through an undersea network next month.

"The electricity network, built by PLN, will start working by mid-January," Regent Djoko Ramadhan told a press conference Friday.

He said residents had been using fuel-powered generators to light their houses and consequently the regency administration had to allocate at least Rp 45 billion (US$4.78 million) yearly for generator maintenance and fuel subsidy.

"That spending covers only electricity needs for houses, not including resorts," he said.

"The cost for the infrastructure development of the planned electricity network is quite cheap, as we need only Rp 240 billion in investment for a system that will last 30 years."

Djoko said the network would also provide more convenience to residences as it would distribute electricity "with constant voltage over 24 hours".

In 2007, Thousand Islands regency had a population of 19,835 people residing on 11 of a total 342 islands.

Djoko said in the first phase of development three to four megawatts (MW) of electricity would be distributed from PLN's powerhouse at Tanjung Pasir in Tangerang, Banten, to residences of South Thousand Islands district.

Islands in the network include Untung Jawa Island, Pari Islands, Lancang Islands, Payung Islands and Tidung Islands, he said.

He said the administration, in cooperation with PLN, would expand the undersea network north in 2008 to cover North Thousand Islands district.

Djoko said the administration was also planning to raise power supply in the regency to more than 30 MW by building a combined-cycle power plant in Damar Island that would be able to generate up to 450 MW in 2009.

The project for the future power plant, he said, would involve investors PLN and city-owned property company PT Jakarta Propertindo.

"We have finished the feasibility studies for the project and are stepping forward to the next level: carrying out the environmental impact analysis," said Djoko.

Huge power capacity, he said, would be necessary to meet residential electricity demand and to help spur a tourism sector that had been sluggish due to a number of problems, including electricity shortages.

"With such an adequate supply, resorts will be back on their feet again and the tourism sector will recover," said Djoko.

The capacity of the future power plant will also be used for operations of a planned airport.

The regency administration is constructing an airport on Panjang Island -- two to three kilometers away from the regency's resort islands.

The Rp 140 billion airport project, which is 60 percent complete, is expected to be operational in 2009.

"We will install the airport's communication system next year and it will be integrated with that of Soekarno-Hatta International airport," said Djoko.

Mitsui to take majority in Indonesia refinery project

(Releads with Mitsui stake)

JAKARTA, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsui & Co will hold a majority stake in a $1.5 billion project to build a residue fluid catalytic cracking unit in Indonesia to help reduce the country's dependence on gasoline imports.

The unit will have the capacity to produce around 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline. Indonesia is Asia's biggest gasoline importer.

An official at Indonesia's state energy firm Pertamina said on Friday that Pertamina and Mitsui would set up a joint venture to build the unit at the existing Cilacap refinery.

"Mitsui will have an 80 percent stake and Pertamina 20 percent in the firm," Pertamina President Director Ari Soemarno told reporters.

"The project will cost about $1.5 billion. The product will be sold to the domestic market."

Soemarno said Pertamina and Mitsui are still working to conclude engineering issues.

Processing director Suroso Atmomartoyo had said previously that Pertamina planned to start building the RFCC by 2008 at the latest and expects it to begin operations in 2010.

Pertamina's Cilacap refinery, located in Central Java, has two crude distillation units with a capacity of 118,000 bpd and 230,000 bpd, respectively.

The refinery also has a 29,000-bpd gasoline-making reforming unit and a 50,000-bpd visbreaker.

The biggest gasoline-making facility in Indonesia is Pertamina's 83,000-bpd residual cracking unit at its Balongan refinery.

Indonesia is Asia's top diesel and gasoline importer, floating a tender each month for large spot volumes that can drive up benchmark regional prices.

OPEC member Indonesia has nine oil refineries scattered across the archipelago with a total combined capacity of around 1 million barrels per day (bpd), but about 30 percent of the country's oil products consumption is still imported.

(Reporting by Muklis Ali, editing by Sugita Katyal and Neil Fullick)

Floods grow worse, search intensified

Slamet Susanto and Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

Flooding in Surakarta in Central Java and its surrounding areas worsened due to heavy rain Friday as rescuers intensified efforts to search for people still believed to be buried by Wednesday's landslide in Tawangmangu in the adjacent city of Karanganyar.

As flooding continued to widen it submerged thousands of houses, raising the number of evacuees from about 26,000 in Surakarta alone to about 31,818 on Friday afternoon.

Thousands of people are living in makeshift tents and a number of public buildings, including Solo City Hall and Manahan Sports Stadium, mosques and other buildings unaffected by the flooding, which is up to three meters deep in some areas.

Purnomo Subagyo, a spokesman for the Solo city administration, said flooding had submerged six subdistricts in Jebres district, four subdistricts in Pasar Kliwon district and one subdistrict in Serengan district.

"The flooding was caused by the overflowing of the huge Gajah Mungkur dam in Wonogiri," he said.

From the landslide location in Tawangmangu, Haru Pratama Kristianto, head of the Karanganyar natural disaster mitigation section reported Friday they had recovered 66 bodies from the thick mud, fewer than the 71 expected earlier.

On Thursday it was reported that as many as 88 people were believed to have been killed in landslides in seven districts in Karanganyar. The figure included 17 bodies recovered in the nearby city of Wonogiri.

Public Works Minister Joko Kirmanto told a press conference in Surakarta on Friday that in order to anticipate overflow from several rivers in Central and East Java, the government would build dozens of small-scale dams next year.

"The construction of the small-scale dams is expected to help reduce the rate of water flow along big rivers," Joko said.

The dams, he said, would be built near small rivers heading into major waterways. "The master plan for the dam construction has already been prepared," the minister said.

He added that the construction of the project would start next year, although he would not say how much it would cost or when it would be completed.

"This deals with a large amount of funds which cannot be set now and disbursed tomorrow," he said.

Two of the dams will be built near Pacitan and Ponorogo in East Java, said Ivan Nursyiwan, the director general of water resources.

From Cepu district in Blora regency, Central Java, it was reported that thousands of other people were also forced to evacuate due to the overflowing Bengawan Solo river, which had swamped their homes with up to two meters of water.

"This flooding is the biggest ever to hit the area since 1993. Our area floods every year, but now is really the biggest one so we are forced to flee," said Yugiono, 51, a resident of Balun hamlet in Cepu.

Budi Santoso, 29, another resident, said he was rushed to save his family has the waters rose. "The most important thing is to save ourselves first," he said.

Suherdjoko contributed to this article from Cepu, Central Java.

No more taxes on exploration equipment

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A regulation exempting oil and gas operators from paying import duties and other taxes on drilling equipment will issue in January, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said here Friday.

Speaking at the year-end meeting of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the finance minister said the regulation would be effective immediately upon issuance and would free oil and gas operators from paying any tax when importing drilling rigs and similar equipment.

At present, oil and gas companies pay a 27.5 percent tax -- 15 percent import duty, 10 percent value added tax and 2.5 percent sales tax -- to import equipment.

"We hope that with this incentive exploration activities will escalate and oil production will increase," she told executives of major mineral companies during the meeting.

The government's promise to provide tax incentives came amid growing complaints from oil and gas operators about high additional costs paid to bring equipment into the country.

Upstream oil and gas regulator BPMIGAS reported recently that combined shipment and tax expenses could cost mineral companies up to half of the value of equipment imported. As a result, some operators were considering delaying exploration activities.

There has been a downward trend in Indonesia's oil production over the last six years due to maturing fields and a lack of new exploration.

This year, the government failed to meet its oil production target of 950,000 by about 40,000 barrels per day.

R. Priyono, the energy ministry's director for upstream oil and gas, said he expected the incentives to facilitate oil and exploration and allow the government to hit its target of 1.034 million barrels in coming years.

Priyono said the government is considering special treatment of investors interested in oil and gas blocks in eastern Indonesia.

"They will be free from the obligation to drill within three years of the issuance of exploration rights," he said.

"So, they will have much more time to carry out seismic surveys and to gather other data before conducting (actual) exploration."

He said he hoped this policy would make the oil and gas blocks in remote eastern areas of the country more attractive to investors.

Mandiri offers scholarships worth Rp 7 billion next year

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State-owned bank PT Bank Mandiri will provide scholarships and entrepreneurship training worth Rp 7 billion for thousands of students next year as part of its corporate social responsibility program.

"The scholarships, available for 8,100 students at elementary to college level across Indonesia, are aimed to help improve education in Indonesia," president director Agus Martowardojo said Friday after signing of memorandum of understanding with leaders of 20 universities.

The universities include the University of Indonesia (Jakarta), University of North Sumatra (Medan), Airlangga University (Surabaya), Bandung Institute of Technology (Bandung), Pattimura University (Ambon), Jakarta State University (Jakarta), Gadjah Mada University (Yogyakarta) and Lambung Mangkurat University (Banjarmasin).

Beside talented students, Agus said, the bank also hopes to provide scholarships for those interested in entrepreneurship, to encourage them to create jobs after they graduate.

"Most graduates in Indonesia focus more on finding jobs after they graduate, rather than creating them. Actually, there are many jobs that can be potentially created," he said.

To help stimulate ideas on job creation, the bank would also hold seminars and training on entrepreneurship, he said.

Agus said the distribution of scholarships and training program would begin in January.

According to Mandiri's director micro and retail banking, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the scholarships were worth some Rp 5 billion while the entrepreneurship scholarships for college students were worth Rp 2 billion.

Bank Mandiri, the country's biggest bank in terms of assets, recorded Rp 3.17 trillion net profits in the first nine months of 2007, indicating a 168 percent rise from Rp 1.18 trillion in the same period last year.

The sharp increase in profits was attributed to substantial increases in loans from Rp 108.7 trillion to Rp 121.7 trillion. The bank's third party funds rose from Rp 91.8 trillion to Rp 122.3 trillion.(ndr)

Friday, December 28, 2007

More low-cost housing planned

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is currently drawing up plans to provide more of the country's low-income families with affordable housing.

The new scheme will enable low-income families to obtain low-cost apartments, with down payments and interest on loans to be partly paid by the government.

"The scheme is being developed to help people who would otherwise have problems paying the down payment on a house," Tito Murbaintoro, the assistant to the deputy public housing minister for housing financing, told Antara on Tuesday.

The government will cover down payments, ranging from between Rp 5 and 7 million (US$530 and $745), depending on each family's financial situation.

As part of the scheme, the government will also cover interest payments of between 7 and 9.5 percent for the first four to eight years.

A 2007 public housing ministerial decree stipulates the subsidy amount to be paid to each family in accordance with their household income.

A person with a monthly income of between Rp 3.5 to Rp 4.5 million will receive a subsidy of Rp 5 million for the down payment on a house, while those earning Rp 2.5 to Rp 3.5 million per month will receive Rp 6 million. Those who earn between Rp 1.2 and Rp 2.5 million per month will receive Rp 7 million under the scheme.

Tito said the proposed scheme, which is currently being discussed with the Finance Ministry, was expected to be implemented next year in line with the government's vision to provide affordable housing to low-income families.

Potential buyers will be encouraged to rent their apartments first before applying for ownership.

"They will be allowed to rent the apartments for up to five years. Then they will be expected to buy them through credit facilities provided," Tito said.

The government's renewed commitment to providing affordable housing for low-income families was announced by Vice President Jusuf Kalla last month.

"The government will not suffer losses by providing these subsidies. The more we develop houses, the more the national economy will grow and the more income tax the nation will receive," he said.

The government has allocated Rp 800 billion for low-cost housing in the 2008 budget, a 160 percent increase from 2007's figure of Rp 300 billion.

The subsidies in 2008 are designed to help low-income families purchase either low-cost apartments or modest houses.

Government plans to ease ruling on distribution of subsidized fuel

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government will ease requirements imposed on private fuel retailers to enable them to participate in the tender process for the distribution of subsidized fuels, an energy official said Thursday.

The chairman of downstream oil and gas regulator BPH Migas, Tubagus Haryono, said the agency was still drafting a new policy to give private fuel retailers a better chance of joining the tender process for the distribution of subsidized fuels.

Under the proposed policy, the regulator will divide distribution areas into at least five so bidders will no longer need to have extensive distribution networks to take part in the process.

Under existing regulations, the regulator has divided the country into four distribution areas -- area I, covering Sumatra; area II, covering Java and Bali; area III, covering Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua and Maluku; and area IV, covering West and East Nusa Tenggara. Distributors have to provide services in at least two different distribution areas.

Tubagus said many private retailers faced difficulties meeting the requirements as they had to build extensive distribution networks with significant fuel storage facilities to be able to qualify for the tender.

With no companies having met the requirements in recent years, the regulator has been continuing to appoint state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina as the primary distributor of subsidized fuels, despite the fact the country's retail fuel market was opened up in 2005.

On Thursday, witnessed by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, BPH Migas reappointed Pertamina as the sole distributor of subsidized fuels next year after rival retailers failed to meet the stated requirements.

Pertamina out-bided PT Aneka Kimia Raya, PT Sigma Rancang Perdana, PT Elnusa Petrofin, a local unit of Royal Dutch Shell, Malaysian state oil and gas firm Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), PT Total ERP Indonesia and PT Jasatama Petroindo, which has connections with British-based energy company BP.

Next year the regulator has assigned Pertamina to distribute 35.8 million kiloliters of subsidized fuels, including 16.95 million kiloliters of gasoline, 7.88 million kiloliters of kerosene and 11 million kiloliters of diesel.

BPH Migas said Pertamina would receive a margin of 13.5 percent for distributing subsidized fuels next year, lower than this year's margin of 14.1 percent.

Subsidized fuels currently account for about 95 percent of the country's total fuel sales.

Khazanah set to merge Bank Lippo and Bank Niaga

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia's state investment company, plans to merge the company's two Indonesian banks Lippo Bank and Bank Niaga in order to comply with the central bank's ruling.

Bank Lippo said in a statement Thursday the merger plan had been submitted to Bank Indonesia and was the preferred option taken by Khazanah to comply with the central bank's single presence ruling, which prohibits a single party from having a dominant stake in more than one bank.

"In the event that the evaluation of the merger suggests this option would not be financially, operationally or legally viable, Khazanah together with Lippo Bank and Bank Niaga would then revert to BI as soon as practically possible with an alternative action plan, which will allow Khazanah to comply with the single presence ruling," the statement said.

Khazanah has indirect ownership of 93 percent of Bank Lippo through Santubong Investments BV and Greatville Pte Ltd, and an indirect equity interest of about 64 percent in Bank Niaga through Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings's subsidiary CIMB Group.

The ruling also affects Singapore's Temasek, which controls both Bank International Indonesia and Bank Danamon.

Khazanah and Temasek have three options in order to fulfill the regulation; sell stakes in one of the banks, merge the two or put them under a holding company.

The two business groups have to fulfill the single presence policy by 2010. But before full implementation, they have to report which options would be taken to the Indonesian central bank before the year end.

In another development, CIMB-Principal Asset Management Berhad said Thursday it had taken over 99 percent of PT Niaga Aset Manajemen (NAM) for Rp 41.5 billion as part of the consolidation of CIMB's units in Indonesia.

Under the transfer of the ownership agreement signed on Dec. 12, PT Commerce Kapital acquired one percent of NAM, the company said in a statement.

"In order to further consolidate the business into one entity, NAM will absorb the fund management business of PT CIMB-GK Securities Indonesia by the first quarter of this year," the statement said.

Malindo Feedmill to spend Rp 245b on buyout and plant construction

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Public poultry products company PT Malindo Feedmill has allocated up to Rp 245 billion to acquire an affiliated company, PT Leong Ayamsatu Primadona (LAP), and to build a new poultry food plant next year, says an executive.

Malindo Commissioner Tan Lai Kang said here on Thursday that the acquisition would be worth Rp 145 billion, while the new plant would cost his company as much Rp 100 billion to build.

The acquisition and new plant were aimed at increasing Malindo's market share in day-old chicks (DOC), and to expand the company's sales in Central Java and North Sumatra provinces, he said.

Lai Kang said that his company, which is owned by Malaysia-based Dragon Amity Ltd. (76.6 percent) and the public (23.4 percent), would hold a shareholders' extraordinary meeting on Jan. 14, 2008 to get approval for the acquisition plan.

According to Lai Kang, LAP, which was established in 1997, had 13 farms for commercial chickens (fryers) and 7 farms for DOCs in Subang, West Java and Deli Serdang, North Sumatra. Its farms produce 6 million chickens and 62 million DOCs a year, respectively.

"The new plant is expected to be ready for operation in 2009 with 360,000 metric tons annual capacity," said Lai Kang, adding that the plant would be located in Modern Cikande in Serang, Banten.

Malindo's net sales increased by 16 percent to Rp 745.56 billion in the first nine months of this year, from Rp 642.39 billion in the same period of last year.

Meanwhile, its net profit decreased by 55.4 percent to Rp 19.37 billion in the first nine months of this year, from Rp 30.12 billion in the same period of last year.

Lai Kang said that the company was expecting to meet Rp 1 trillion of net sales by end of this year. (nkn)

Batan says nuclear plant safe

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan) assures the safety of its nuclear development projects and waste management, saying it implements nuclear quality assurance measures and the International Atomic Energy Agency's infrastructure standards.

"We have been developing a research center for nuclear energy in Serpong since 1984. The research center building meets international safety standards," Batan chairman, Hudi Hastowo, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

"We have also implemented nuclear quality assurance measures to increase safety."

Hudi spoke on the sidelines of a ceremony to install Erwansyah Lubis and Zainus Salimin as research professors at the agency.

The controversial plan to build a nuclear power plant in Muria, Central Java, in 2015 has raised protests from the surrounding community, environmental organizations and activists.

There are concerns over the possibility of accidents causing damage to the environment or harm to human beings.

The nuclear plant opponents are also quick to point out that Indonesia still possesses undeveloped alternative sources of energy.

Hudi said people's attitudes had been influenced by the horrible effects of nuclear incidents like the Chernobyl reactor leakage or the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs.

"People tend to be suspicious and prejudice about nuclear development because of previous incidents," he said.

"Acknowledging the risks and uncertainty involved in the development of nuclear power and educating the public will help people become more accepting.

"Actually, nuclear energy can also give positive benefits with minimum risks."

He added it was important to educate people about nuclear waste management and the risks of nuclear development.

Hudi said nuclear waste should be disposed of in amounts the environment could accommodate.

"It will take a long time with greater costs to handle this nuclear waste if it exceeds tolerable limits, as the environment will loose its ability to adapt." he said.

Meanwhile, Erwansyah said precise planning, good infrastructure and qualified human resources were needed to increase capacity and confidence building in studies on radioactive waste disposal.

Zainus, an expert in radioactive waste treatment, said the public should also be educated about nuclear power plant waste management systems so they would understand and not worry about radioactive threats. (rff)

Eco-driving promoted to cut emissions

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is working to change the behavior of public transportation drivers, a key element in the campaign to reduce carbon emissions.

The transportation sector accounts for 50 percent of the nation's total fuel consumption. Of that, 80 percent is consumed by land transportation.

"In addition to fuel diversification, energy-use efficiency is a second means of reducing national fuel subsidies, which have proven to be very costly for Indonesia," Dollaris Riauaty "Waty" Suhadi, the project manager for Swisscontact's Clean Air Project, said during a campaign drive Thursday.

To increase efficiency in fuel use, Waty added, Swisscontact has introduced eco-driving or fuel-efficiency driving among bus and commercial vehicle operators through a pilot study involving drivers of charter bus firm PT Hiba Utama.

"After training 100 Hiba Utama drivers in eco-driving techniques, our study concluded that the company managed to reduce fuel consumption up to 18 percent, enabling it to save at least US$12,000 per month," she said. Hiba Utama operates more than 2,000 vehicles and employs at least 4,000 drivers.

Swisscontact previously trained 50 truck drivers at publicly-listed cement maker PT Holcim Indonesia in 2006, the year the non-government organization first introduced eco-driving to Indonesia. The concept has also been applied in Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany.

In eco-driving, motorists avoid hard acceleration, excessive braking and other behaviors that lead to higher fuel consumption.

"The way we accelerate and shift gears affects the way fuel is used," said the Transportation Ministry's director general for land transportation, Iskandar Abubakar.

According to Iskandar, since the commercial transportation sector is not only the country's largest fuel consumer, but also one of the sectors most likely to be hit by fuel subsidy cuts, there is a greater need for eco-friendly operation measures within the industry.

Soetanto Soehondo of the City Transportation Board, however, argued that the idea should have been introduced among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individually-owned commercial operators first, instead of big players like Hiba Utama and PT Bluebird.

"A cursory glance at the city's transportation system will tell you that the main contributors to carbon monoxide emissions are actually buses owned by SMEs and private individuals," Soetanto told The Jakarta Post by phone Thursday evening.

"Well-established companies like Hiba, on the other hand, already have certain operating standards. So naturally they will face fewer challenges in training their drivers, unlike public bus operators, which are pressed to generate as much money as possible within a short period of time," he argued.

According to Waty, Swisscontact is targeting large fleet companies for reasons of efficiency.

"Introducing eco-driving measures to companies with large vehicle fleets will yield more results than approaching SMEs that on average run small numbers of vehicles," she said. (amr)

Carrefour in final talks to acquire 75% of Alfa

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

France-based retailer PT Carrefour Indonesia is finalizing negotiations to acquire about 75 percent of local retailer PT Alfa Retailindo (Alfa) in a move that will allow the company to tap into Alfa's growing retail network in East Java, Bali and Lampung.

Carrefour corporate affairs director Irawan D. Kadarman told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that his company had signed a memorandum of understanding on Dec. 17 with Alfa's majority shareholders, PT Sigmantara Alfindo and Singapore-based Prime Horizon Pte. Ltd., which have 55 percent and 40 percent stakes, respectively, in the publicly listed retail operator. The other five percent is held by the investing public.

"We will finalize the negotiations in the weeks to come. Until then, we cannot divulge any of the details," said Irawan.

Chief commissioner of Alfa, Djoko Susanto, told Detik.com that the parties would hold a second meeting on Jan. 6 to determine a share price.

"The shares may be priced at around Rp 1,950 (20 U.S. cents)," he added.

Sources said that Sigmantara would likely only sell a 35 percent stake in Alfa and retain the other 20 percent. But unlike Sigmantara, Singapore's Prime would probably offload its entire 40 percent stake to the French retailer.

In order to gain control of 75 percent of Alfa, Carrefour would likely launch an open tender to buy the five percent held by the investing public.

Carrefour, which commenced operating in Indonesia in 1998, owns 31 retail outlets in Jakarta; Bandung, West Java; Yogyakarta and Semarang in Central Java; Surabaya; Denpasar, Bali; Medan, North Sumatra; Palembang, South Sumatra; and Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Alfa, which was established in Jakarta in 1989, was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) in January, 2000, and operates 29 supermarket outlets in Jakarta; Surabaya; Malang and Jember, East Java; Cirebon, West Java; Denpasar, Bali; and in Lampung.

The company is facing declining sales, especially in Jakarta amid growing competition from other retail giants, such as Matahari's Hypermarket and Carrefour itself.

Alfa's sales dropped 9 percent to Rp 2.4 trillion during the first nine months of this year from Rp 2.63 trillion in the same period last year.

The company still managed to increase its net profit by 1.2 percent to Rp 17.13 billion (around $1.8 million) despite the lower revenues. (nkn)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Visit Indonesia Year 2008 officially launched

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) :The government officially launched Visit Indonesia Year 2008 on Wednesday, with the main aim of luring up to 7 million foreign tourists and booking US$6.4 billion in foreign exchange income.

To help reach the target, the government is setting aside $15 million for a domestic and international advertising blitz.

"The budget will be used to finance the promotion campaign, especially abroad," Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik told a media conference before the grand launch of the program, which will be the second for the country.

The government held its first Visit Indonesia program in 1991, which was not particularly successful, increasing the number of foreign tourists by merely 400,000 from the year earlier, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

BPS data show that in 1991, around 2.5 million foreign tourists visited the country, from 2.1 million in the previous year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tsunami simulation presented before President Yudhoyono

Banten (ANTARA News) - Simulation of Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (Ina-TEWS) was presented before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Ciwandan industrial area in Cilegon, Banten, on Wednesday in the observance of devastating tsunami which hit Aceh province on December 26, 2004.

On the occasion President Yudhoyono was accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS, Research and Technology Minister Kusmayanto Kardiman, Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal, and Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah.

The simulation of how to manage earthquake and its ensuing tsunami was earlier presented in Padang, West Sumatra, in 2005 and in Denpasar, Bali, in 2006.

The simulation makes it clear how the tsunami struck the coastlines of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India with such devastating force, then continued as far as East Africa.

On December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude underwater earthquake caused a tremendous tsunami that devastated Aceh Province, resulting in the deaths of more than 200,000 people.

This tragedy evoked great concern internationally; governments, multilateral organizations, international, national and local NGOs, religious organizations, ethnic organizations, professional organizations, educational institutions and others have rushed to provide aid to the people of Aceh.

After the simulation, President Yudhoyono planted trees at area around PT Krakatau Steel as part of his country`s commitment to dealing with climate change.

Duta Graha expects solid showing this year and in 2008

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Newly listed construction company PT Duta Graha Indah expects to book Rp 75 billion (around US$7.9 million) in net profit this year and hopes to win projects worth Rp 3.5 trillion next year, mostly government-funded construction projects in the regions.

Duta Graha said Monday it was expanding its operations to Papua, North Sumatra and Aceh, as well as remote regencies, in order to achieve the target.

"We are still working on a great number of infrastructure projects, such as airports, roads, bridges and government buildings in East Kalimantan, North Maluku and South Sulawesi.

"We are focusing on projects in the regions because, under local autonomy, the regions will become centers of growth in the coming decades," said Duta Graha president J.B. Koesnarno.

Corporate secretary Djohan Halim said the company had good prospects in the coming years and would improve its credibility with the public due to its good performance this year.

"Our net profit this year will reach Rp 75 billion, an increase of four percent from the targeted Rp 72 billion, or 25 percent more than the Rp 60 billion that was estimated by the research conducted by stock market analysts," he said.

He said the company was working on a number of infrastructure projects in West Sumatra, Riau Islands, Halmahera and Central Java this December that would be carried over into 2008.

Koesnarno was optimistic about the prospects of the company in the years to come.

"We will continue to focus on government projects in the regions as not only are these more profitable, it is also in line with our commitment to helping speed up regional development so as to improve people's well-being," he said.

Internet charges may drop by half in 4 years

Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The telecommunications regulatory body is preparing a number of policies in order to gradually lower Internet charges, currently among the highest in the world, by 50 percent within four years.

"Compared to other countries, our Internet connection charges are too high. We have studied what causes this, and have also responded through various policies and initiatives," Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Board (BRTI) spokesperson Heru Sutadi told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

According to the latest figures from the International Telecommunications Union, Indonesia is 47th in the world in terms of lowest Internet tariffs, with the average charge in Indonesia being US$5.07 per 100 kilobytes per second on a direct connection to an Internet service provider, or what is also known as a leased line.

The is far more expensive than other countries in the region, such as Singapore, in 18th place on $1.59, Thailand, in 24th on $2.38, Malaysia, in 28th on $2.57, and Vietnam, in 40th on $3.69.

Meanwhile, the three cheapest countries are Japan in first place on $0.007, South Korea in second on 0.008 and Taiwan and China in joint third, both on $0.18 each.

Heru said that under the new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure road map, the government hoped to reduce broadband charges by more than half to about $2.40 per 100 kilobytes per second by 2011.

The most significant step on the road to lower charges, he said, would be a review of the regulations on the determining of fixed-line charges.

"The existing price formula, which was introduced in 1998, is no longer suitable for current conditions. We will reevaluate this so as to produce connections that are approximately 40 percent cheaper," he said.

The reason behind the current high charges, he said, was the lack of competition for connection to the international backbone between dominant players such as PT Telkom and PT Indosat.

"The dominant players in the market were able to set pricing as they pleased. Now, we have issued licenses to new players so as to encourage more competition," he said.

Another step designed to expand the supply of network connections, he said, was the Palapa Ring project, which aimed to link the entire archipelago with a fiberoptic network that would serve as the national backbone not only for voice services but also for the Internet.

Earlier in November, BRTI reported that internet penetration in Indonesia amounted to only 9.1 percent of the total population, giving about 20 million active users, 70 percent of whom are located in Greater Jakarta. The country also had some 7,602 Internet kiosks.

"The current cost of fiberoptics has declined from Rp 5 million (about $538) per two kilometers previously to Rp 3 million. That too will lower costs and help speed up network expansion," Heru said.

Aside from introducing new regulations and holding tenders for the development of the network, the government also plans to make a number of technical improvements next year, including better Internet protocol (IP) address and Internet exchange (IX) management, improved domain-name service administration, and migration from IP version 4 to IP version 6.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Algae farming

Bali’s fishing community adapts to looming climate change.

The Star online


AS COUNTRIES from around the world met in Bali, Indonesia recently to thrash out a new framework on fighting global warming, the fishing community there is adapting to the looming impact of climate change.

Many are turning away from fishing to a small but innovative scheme aimed at reviving the tropical island’s coral reef, which is threatened by rising temperatures and over-exploitation.

The scheme, run by environment group WWF, encourages people to give up damaging fishing practices and turn instead to the more sustainable – and lucrative – practice of seaweed farming.

The algae farms, launched in 2001 in the village of Sumber Kima and the surrounding coast, support 200 households. This year, the fishermen will harvest 29 tonnes of seaweed, mostly to be sold to the United States and Japan.

WWF coral expert Lida Pet-Soede said the project was aimed at “reducing human pressure on this reef, which is so rich in biodiversity and in its variety of fish.”

“The local population who live here on fishing and tourism can continue to benefit from it in the future while at the same time being less dependent,” she said.

Many of the tiny bouquets of brownish algae being harvested from the reef come from the nets of fishermen who, in the past, used grenades to blast fish to the surface or captured fish for the lucrative foreign trade in tropical aquariums. Both practices have been hugely destructive on both the coral and populations of rare fish species.

Ria Fitriana, who runs the programme for the WWF, said the scheme offered fishermen the chance to earn about 750,000 rupiah (RM300) a month, almost double what they made before.

“For the first time I have enough money for my family. One day I’ll send my children on to higher education,” said Khairiyah, a 30-year-old woman who is part of the project and whose husband has now given up fishing.

“He had to go off for longer distances and longer times and petrol is getting more and more costly,” she said.

A warming of the seas caused by a severe El Nino in 1998 ravaged Bali’s coral reef. Some 16% of the ornate undersea flora was killed off and the remainder is still suffering a decade later. Scientists anticipate that temperatures are rising in Indonesia by 0.3°C per decade, raising fears that the reef’s rich biodiversity will be wrecked for future generations.

Women in particular have cashed in on the new business, using the protein-rich seaweed to make sweets, chips and crackers that they can sell.

The project receives small amounts of funding from the local government and from Australia, which contributed about US$2,000 (RM6,800). – AFP

FM vows to help Bangka Belitung host int`l conference

Pangkalpinang (ANTARA News) - Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda has vowed to help Bangka Belitung host an international conference next year as part of efforts to promote the country`s 31th province abroad.

"I will try to encourage the holding of an international conference in Bangka Belitung next year to make it popular abroad in order to speed up development in the region," he said here on Monday.

Bangka Belitung was endowed with abundant natural resources such as tin, rubber, pepper and oil palm, not to mention its tourist sites, he said.

"Foreign nationals` participation in the international conference will in the future open opportunities for the province to establish cooperation with the international community in the commercial, mining, tourism and agricultural sectors," he said.

He said Indonesia was considered successful in organizing an United Nations climate change conference in Bali this month, thus setting an example for other provinces in the country to host international conferences.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Fluidcon to export road blockers to Middle East

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

PT Fluidcon Jaya, a consulting company for the mining, and oil and gas industries, as well as manufacturer of road blockers and oil and gas-related equipment, is set to export its latest product to several countries next year.

"We will send two high security system road blockers to a company in Iraq this month. Then, we will send 10 more road blockers there early next year," Fluidcon business development manager Widiantoro Nugroho said Saturday.

In addition, he said, the company would also export 27 road blockers to Thailand in 2008, with Afghanistan and Pakistan also being promising markets.

"We will focus on the international market, especially nations in the Middle East, as we know there is major demands for high security systems in that region," Widiantoro explained.

The company sees big potentials in the domestic market for its road blockers.

"There are many potential market segments here that we can avail of, such as embassies and airports," Widiantoro said. "So far, we've held talks with hotels in Bali about the installation of our security systems."

According to Widiantoro, the 2-5-meter-long road blockers are able to block vehicles weighing up to 20 tons at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour.

Road blockers, which cost between US$30,000 and $35,000, can be integrated with several other security systems, including finger-print scanning equipment and closed-circuit television, or CCTV.(ndr)

West Sumbawa to acquire 2% of Newmont's shares

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The West Sumbawa regental administration has reached an agreement with Newmont Indonesia Ltd. to acquire a 2 percent of Newmont Nusa Tenggara's (NNT) shares, in an effort to stimulate the regency's economy and improve community welfare.

West Sumbawa chief councilor Mohammad Amin said a team, set up jointly by West Sumbawa Administration and the regental legislature, was still in negotiations with the gold mining company, and hoped to close the deal in the near future.

"The ongoing negotiations, which involve the team and a company owned by the regional administration, began after the regional administration decided to accept an offer from Newmont Indonesia Ltd. and Nusa Tenggara Mining Corporation, on Nov. 30, 2007," he said after a meeting Tuesday with the Environment and Mining Commission at the House of Representatives in Jakarta.

The deal is connected with NNT's plan to sell seven percent (some US$80.6 million worth) of its shares this year, and is also connected to the government regulation requiring the company to divest 31 percent of its shares to the Indonesian government.

Amin said in accepting NNT's share offer, West Nusa Tenggara province and regional administration were representing the central government.

"We are allowed to acquire NNT shares independently, and the foreign company also has its own plausible reasons to sell them to regional administrations, since its mine is located in the province," he said.

Amin said West Sumbawa and the provincial government planned to create a better investment climate and security for NNT which was expected to accelerate the mining industry, employ local workers and increase the regional administration's income from profit sharing, taxes and public spending.

Asked how West Sumbawa would finance the NNT share purchase, he said it would "certainly not overburden the regional administration budget".

RI, Australia run youth exchange in Lombok

Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara

Despite the ups and downs in diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia, young people from both countries have been finding success as ambassadors when they venture abroad.

At least 18 Australian and 18 Indonesian youth are participating in the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) this year.

Australian participants moved in with host families in Sigerongan village in West Lombok on Dec. 17, and would stay two months, said AIYEP's Australian coordinator Edward Russell.

"We are so happy and so surprised to find hundreds of local residents welcome us. At first I thought we would be greeted by only a dozens residents here," said Russell on Sunday.

"We have had no problems staying here. The local residents are so kind. I have tried the local food, like pelecing kangkung -- boiled-water spinach with traditional chili sauce. That's very hot but so delicious," said participant Janet Courtis.

During their stay AIYEP participants plan to set up programs focused on education, environmental awareness and sport and youth activities.

"We have also arranged futsal and badminton games here," said the AIYEP's Indonesia coordinator, Lutfi Nur Rosyidi.

Lufti said AIYEP participants would help build badminton courts and teach English to elementary students and local residents.

"(And) we have explained to residents that we do not want to set up physical programs only, but we also want to encourage people here to take care of their environment," Edward added.

In October, Indonesian youth visited Australia for two months, splitting the time between Melbourne and Mildura, a small town about six hours from Melbourne. Participants lived like families with their host parents, said Lufti.

AIYEP was first introduced by the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministries and the Indonesian Sport and Youth Ministry in 1981.

"The program is aimed at providing participants with an understanding of Indonesian and Australian ways of life," said AIYEP spokesman Abdul.

The head of Sigerongan village, Mustiadi, said he was happy to welcome AIYEP participants to his village.

"Residents here are also happy because they can have the experience of cultural exchange. We are so proud that our village has been chosen by the government to join this program," Mustiadi said.

Edwards said cultural exchange was at the heart of the program.

"By following this program, we know that Australians and Indonesians can live together in harmony," Edwards said.

Balinese houses popular abroad

DENPASAR (Jakarta Post) : The export of Balinese-style quake-resistance homes recorded US$5.8 million in sales between January and October this year, a sharp 446 percent increase from $1 million over the same period last year.

Bali's Trade and Industry Office said the exports also recorded a sharp increase in volume, from 356 units to 30,667.

"Who would have expected knock-down houses to become a such a hot item for export to European countries, the U.S. and Australia?" said Made Suma, a marketer of Balinese-style homes in Denpasar.

He attributed the high sales to the wooden house's unique character and easy set-up, as well as by the word-of-mouth promotion from tourists and various exhibitions.

The house is among the exhibits on display at the one-month-long Bali Art Festival in Denpasar Cultural Park, in the heart of Bali's capital city.

Malls organize Christmas charities for children

Agnes Winarti, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Christmas is the time when kids receive presents from Santa, but at several malls in Jakarta this year anyone can give children reasons to smile.

At Senayan City Mall in South Jakarta, the Lego Charity Toy Box is accepting toy donations for less fortunate children across the country.

The program is the joint effort of ALJ (Lego's sole distributor in Asia) and the charity organization Wahana Visi Indonesia (WVI), and will be accepting donations until Jan 2, 2008.

Event coordinator Sandy Syahril said public response had been positive.

"I'm especially proud of the fact that most of the donators know about this charity from dropping by and asking us what they can do. It really shows how people are willing to give," he said.

Priscilla Christin, Donor Acquisition and Marketing Manager for WVI, said toys could also be donated at its charity booths in Plaza Indonesia, Kelapa Gading Mall, Plaza Senayan and Grand Indonesia.

On Sunday's opening at Senayan City, the program took in around 40 toys, including dolls, toy cars and play cooksets.

Priscilla said Christmas was just one opportunity among many for people to share their good fortune.

"It's important that you give not just because it's Christmas," she said. "Ultimately we want people to learn the value of giving.

"When you're getting new toys, give the old ones away, because these children are simply going to love whatever you give them."

WVI runs a sponsorship program for needy children in Indonesia, with 75,000 children currently under its care according to partner World Vision Indonesia.

The Lego Charity Toy Box is located next to the largest Lego toy city diorama in Asia, which was unveiled earlier this month at the mall.

Sandy said both the booth and the Lego toy city diorama were set up in the spirit of Christmas, and that all parts of the lego city were either donated or lent by the creators.

Other shopping malls in the city are celebrating the Christmas season in various ways.

Mal Taman Anggrek in West Jakarta is holding a robotics show featuring Christmas characters like Mr. Snowman and Santa's reindeer singing Christmas carols.

The animatronics robots were created by students of the Electro Engineering Department at the University of Satyawacana in Salatiga, Central Java.

The 15-minute play is held five times a day, and will run until Dec. 25.

Plaza Senayan, in South Jakarta, is holding a joint Christmas charity drive from Dec. 3 to 25 with environmental and children's education NGOs Habitat for Humanity, WWF, GNOTA, Save the Children and Sampoerna Foundation. Also offered are children's choir performances and opportunities to meet Santa.

Mal Artha Gading in North Jakarta is holding a Christmas decoration exhibition until Jan. 6 and offering a photo-op with Santa in a becak (pedicab). (anw)

Pertamina to import LPG tubes from Thailand

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian oil company PT Pertamina will start importing three-kilogram tubes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Thailand early next year.

Chief of Pertamina`s communication division Wisnuntoro said here on Monday that around 2 million LPG tubes would be imported from Thailand in January and February next year.

"Pertamina should have started importing the tubes this week but because of long holiday, it will be started early January 2008," Wisnuntoro said.

He pointed out that the import of two million LPG tubes was intended to meet the demand of kerosene conversion into liquefied petroleum gas in 2007 by 4.2 million units.

Wisnuntoro said Pertamina had decided to import three-kilogram tubes of LPG from Thailand because they were considered to fulfill the Indonesian National Standard (SNI).

Besides Thailand, he said Pertamina had also made a survey in two other countries, namely China and India.

He said Indonesia in 2007 demanded 10.2 million of LPG cylinders but the domestic producers were only able to produce around 6 million tubes.

Therefore he said the government permitted Pertamina to import from Thailand next month because the demand of LPG cylinder in 2008 would reach 23 million units.

Indonesia seeking opportunity to sell Natuna gas to Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is currently exploring the possibility of selling natural gas from its Natuna Block to Thailand because channeling the gas to domestic consumers will be too costly.

Visiting Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro spoke about the effort to market Natuna gas in Thailand at a dinner at the Indonesian Embassy here on Friday.

Purnomo said shipping gas from the Natuna Block to the domestic markets was expensive as the block was located in a far-flung part of the Indonesian archipelago.

"Natuna is located near the Vietnamese border, and transporting the gas to the domestic markets will be too costly," he said.

Therefore, the Indonesian government was now putting out feelers on the possibility of selling the Natuna gas to Thailand. The exploration was being done by a government team in Thailand.

The minister on the occasion asked for the Indonesian embassy`s assistance in directing the team in its mission. After the exploration team had accomplished its task, another team would come to Thailand to handle negotiations on the gas sale.

Purnomo said the two countries had actually already begun preliminary talks on Indonesian gas supply in 1997 but the talks came to a halt as both countries were hit by economic crisis.

The discussions had now been reopened as the two countries had recovered from the crisis while Thailand was now also in great need of gas supply, he said.

The Natuna fields are estimated to be able to produce one billion cubic feet of natural gas per year.