Iran to invest US$600 million in Indonesian projects

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will sign US$600 million ( Ђ 483 million) in investments in Indonesia's gas and oil sector during a state visit next month, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday.

"Iran wants to invest US$200 million ( Ђ 161 million) to fix offshore refinery platforms in Indonesia and also to invest US$400 million ( Ђ 322 million) in building a gas pipeline from South Sumatra to Batam," Yuri Thamrin said at a press briefing.

The pipeline would have to be at least 400 kilometers (250 miles) long to connect South Sumatra, as one of Indonesia's gas rich provinces, with Batam industrial island, which is located just 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Singapore, the region's shipping hub.

Thamrin did not provide additional details about the pending investment, which would provide Indonesia's gas and oil sector with a greatly needed cash injection.

Indonesia is the sole Southeast Asian member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, but it was a net oil importer in 2005. Its oil industry has suffered and foreign investors have been scared away amid perceptions of rampant corruption, poor infrastructure and judicial unpredictability.

Ahmadinejad will be in Indonesia from May 9-13 for the fifth conference of the group of eight predominantly Muslim countries, also known as the D-8.

The group, comprised of Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt and Nigeria, will likely discuss the ongoing international crisis over Tehran's nuclear program, reports the AP.

I.L.