Exxon planning to sell stakes in Aceh gas fields

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408px-ExxonMobil_Tower,_Kuala_Lumpur

Credit: Two hundred percent / CC BY-SA 3.0

ExxonMobil announced on Monday that it is selling its natural gas assets in three Indonesian companies in Aceh connected with a long-extended human rights lawsuit.

The companies; Mobil Exploration Indonesia, ExxonMobil Oil Indonesia and Mobil Indonesia LNG are located in the resource-rich site of Aceh, which has long been the bone of content between the Indonesian government and separatist rebels.

In a statement released by the company, ExxonMobil said that it was marketing its shares in the three companies associated with Aceh gas and LNG (liquefied natural gas) producing operation in Indonesia. At the same time, the company’s other projects and interests in Indonesia will remain unaffected.

Of the three companies, ExxonMobil Oil Indonesia has been dragged in court by 11 villagers accusing  ExxonMobil security forces of torture, murder and rape while harbouring the interests of the company’s gas projects.

The lawsuit first filed in 2001 has been rejected by the US-based company. In a recent development, a US federal court allowed the case to go forward, opening doors for a lengthy court battle.

On the other hand, ExxonMobil refused to mention the lawsuit as the reason for selling its stakes. It said that its decision was related to its “long-standing practice of continually reviewing assets for their contribution to ExxonMobil’s operating and financial objectives”.

ExxonMobil has been operating in Indonesia for more than 100 years, when the Aceh gas field was first discovered in 1971. An LNG plant was set up in Arun, and the company started exporting LNG to Japan in 1978.

Presently, ExxonMobil operations in Indonesia cover Cepu block areas in Central Java, East Natuna in Riau Islands and the coal bed methane (CBM) evaluation in Kalimantan.

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