The discovery rate of oil reserves was once higher than the production rate, the former governor of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Maizar Rahman, said at a monthly discussion with editors-in-chiefs here on Thursday.
"But now the production rate is higher than the discovery rate. It is getting more difficult to discover oil reserves. Indonesia now belongs to a group of oil poor countries," he said.
Also addressing the discussion were energy observer Komaidi Notonegoro of ReforMiner Institute, A Qoyum Tjandranegara of the Committee of the Downstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Body (BPH Migas), M Harun of state oil and gas company PT Pertamina, and Satya W Yudha, a member of the House of Representatives Commission VI from the Golkar Party.
Noting that fossil energy consumption continues to increase, Maizar said competition to find new oil reserves will increasingly become more difficult and oil prices will continue to rise.
Indonesia has abundant sources of new and renewable energy, such as solar, geothermal and hydroelectric energy, that have not been developed, he said.
"The results of a study suggest that solar energy will become the world`s main energy in the future. Therefore, the government should now focus on new and renewable energy, particularly solar energy," he said.
Sharing Maizar`s view, Komaidi said Indonesia`s oil reserves now account for 0.31 percent of global reserves. With oil production recorded at 0.31 percent and consumption at 1.48 percent, Indonesia has an oil deficit of 0.26 percent.
Between 2001 and 2010, Indonesia saw its oil reserves declining 1.8 percent and production 3.65 percent per year, while its oil consumption rose 1.35 percent per year, he said.
He added that the government should have the ability to provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to investors in developing new and renewable energy.
Meanwhile, Qoyum Tjandranegara said the low prices of domestic fuel oils were responsible for poor development of new and renewable energy.
The country`s dependence on fossil-based energy now reaches 97 percent of overall energy consumption, Satya Yudha said.
"Only 3 percent originates from new and renewable energy. It`s time to switch to new and renewable energy," he said.