Chevron Indonesia plans to expand geothermal power

JAKARTA Thu Nov 1, 2007 6:29am EDT

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JAKARTA Nov 1 (Reuters) - Chevron Geothermal Indonesia Ltd, a unit of Chevron Corp. (CVX.N), plans to expand its geothermal power capacity to meet growing electricity demand in the Southeast Asian country, a company official said on Thursday.

Chevron currently has geothermal power plants with a total capacity of around 365 megawatts (MW) in West Java province.

"We are very keen to expand our geothermal capacity. We are considering whether we can expand from our operation in West Java," Usman Slamet, a Chevron official, told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference.

He did not specify a time frame.

Indonesia, dotted with hundreds of active and extinct volcanoes, has the potential to produce an estimated 27,000 MW of electricity from geothermal sources.

However, the vast potential remains largely untapped because of the high cost of generating electricity from geothermal sources.

"Chevron has no problem regarding financing and technology. We are looking for possibilities to expand our geothermal projects in other areas in Indonesia," Slamet said.

Indonesia, Asia Pacific's only OPEC member, is tapping alternative energy sources to meet rising power demand and to cut consumption of expensive crude oil as its own reserves dwindle.

Simon Sembiring, the directorate general of geothermal and mineral resources, said earlier this year many foreign firms were interested in investing in geothermal energy projects in Indonesia.

The firms include Icelands's Reykjavik Energy Invest which signed a preliminary deal on Oct. 23 with Indonesia's state oil firm Pertamina to develop a geothermal power plant.

Mines and energy minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said in February that electricity generated from geothermal sources could rise to 9,500 MW by 2025 from 850 MW,.

Indonesia, with its ageing power plants, needs to increase electricity supply to avoid shortages in the world's fourth-most populous country, where power demand is estimated to be growing at around 10 percent a year.

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