"We want to speed up the establishment of coal gasification to produce dimethyl ether (DME). It seems that (the company) is ready, in terms of technology and other things," Hartarto said here on Tuesday.
The minister noted that the postponement of the signing of a cooperation agreement for PTBA's gasification in the United States would not affect progress in building the plant.
"The construction project did not depend on the signing (of the agreement)," he added.
President Director of PTBA Arviyan Arifin said the development of the coal gasification industry is being handled by state-run oil and gas company PT Pertamina (Persero) and the US-based gas and chemical company Air Products and Chemicals Inc, and has entered the Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) stage.
"We will soon begin construction. Now that we have started the EPC, there is no correlation between coronavirus and the construction of the gasification plant," he added.
According to Hartarto, the gasification plant will not only convert young-type coal into DME, but also convert coal into other high-valued products.
"The main product is DME, but apart from that we also produce ethanol and other products with high added-value," he said.
Previously, the company said it had postponed the signing of the cooperation agreement for PTBA's gasification in the United States, which was originally scheduled for 14 March, 2020, when President Joko Widodo attends the ASEAN-US Special Summit.
But because of the coronavirus outbreak, US President Donald Trump postponed the international conference, and the signing will be rescheduled.
Arviyan Arifin said the plan, and also a number of other projects, were postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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