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Indonesia considers temporarily pulling out of OPEC

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Tuesday that Indonesia was considering quitting the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries because it was no longer a net oil exporter.

“Our wells are drying,” he said in the nationally televised speech, adding that the country needed to concentrate on increasing domestic production, which has dropped to less than a million barrels a day. “That could take one to three years.” The government opened talks Monday on “whether we should continue to stay with OPEC or withdraw our membership ... until we reach a point where we deserve to rejoin that organization,” he told governors and heads of regencies from all over Indonesia.

The country of 235 million people is Southeast Asia’s only OPEC member. But it has to import oil because of decades of declining investment in exploration and extraction due to corruption and a weak legal system that makes oil companies wary of doing business here. The country’s oil output has declined steadily from oil production of 1.5 million to 1.6 million barrels a day in the mid-1990s. It is not the first time the government has evaluated Indonesia’s membership in the grouping. (The Economic Times)