Indonesia: Medan workers protest shortage of gas

Indonesia: Medan workers protest shortage of gas

Some 800 employees of companies that are heavily reliant on gas staged a protest Wednesday at the North Sumatra provincial council and the governor’s office demanding the government reduce the current gas-supply shortage.

The workers, all members of the Gas Customers Communications Forum, said a number of companies had sent workers home because of the supply shortage.

A representative of workers at glove-making company PT Intan Hevea Industry, James HS Ketaren, said the company had lowered its production over the past three weeks, sending home 100 workers.

“Our company is in a tricky situation, which has forced it to send workers home. We are producing 600,000 fewer pairs of gloves a day. The decline in unavoidable due to the gas-supply shortage,” James told The Jakarta Post at the protest. The company usually produces around 1.5 million pairs of gloves a day.

He said the government needed to act fast, before more workers lost income.

The company currently receives 0.2 bar of gas a day from state gas company PGN, from 1 bar a day previously.

Because of this the company can only operate two of its seven machines.

Jefri Sirait, the manager of PT Kawasan Industri Medan industrial complex, said the gas-supply shortage in the province has seriously affected business.

He said the shortage had affected 57 companies, including 20 in the industrial complex.

Responding to the shortage, the general manager of PGN in North Sumatra, Arsyad Rangkuti, said the company had been limiting its gas supply since July 9, when state oil and gas company Pertamina told it to only distribute gas in accordance with the contract between them. Before that, Pertamina had been more flexible about whether PGN distributed more gas than the contract allowed.

The new policy, he said, was made because of the declining capacity of gas wells and the increasing demand for gas from state power company PLN, due to last year’s fuel price increases.

“Official notice of the new policy was delivered to our office by Pertamina on July 7 and, on the same day, we notified our customers,” Arsyad said.

© of The Jakarta Post.

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