Rangga D. Fadillah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 06/01/2012 8:53 AM

State power utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) announced coal shipping from Kalimantan had returned to normal after the recent blockades by locals on the Barito and Makaham rivers, two main coal delivery routes.

Company coal division head Helmi Najamuddin said he was thankful that the blockade did not last longer as there would have been electricity disruption in Java as PLN’s coal stock was only sufficient for around 25 days.

“The delivery has returned to normal,” he told The Jakarta Post via text message on Thursday.

PLN Java-Bali operational director Ngurah Adnyana said that PLN was the largest coal buyer in the country and 62 percent of electricity in Java would be produced by coal-fired power plants this year,

He also claimed that if the blockade lasted no more than three days, there would be no effect to PLN’s coal supply.

On Saturday, a group of people comprising NGO activists, locals and students prohibited all coal carriers to pass Barito River in South Kalimantan. The same action happened on Wednesday at Mahakam River in East Kalimantan.

Kalimantan is the main coal producing region in Indonesia, the world’s biggest thermal coal exporter. Any disruption may hurt shipments to top buyers: India, China and Japan,

The blockades were the manifestation of Kalimantan residents’ disappointment to the central government, which set the island’s subsidized fuels quota below its potential need. The potential demand of subsidized fuels in the island will reach 3.5 million kiloliters (KL) this year but the quota given by the central government is only 3.03 million KL.

To voice the concerns of the people, two weeks ago, representatives of Kalimantan’s regional administrations met House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing energy to request additional quota.

Utilizing more coal in power generation has been PLN’s priority strategy to cut operational costs. This year, the firm’s coal consumption is predicted to hit 59.3 million tons, up from 41.8 million tons last year. The number is expected to jump to 73.8 million tons in 2013, 83 million tons in 2014 and 88.8 million tons in 2015.

Downstream oil and gas authority BPH Migas official Ibrahim Hasyim argued there should be no further blockades in coal delivery routes in Kalimantan following agreements made by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and representatives of Kalimantan’s four provincial administrations on Thursday.

In the meeting, Minister Jero Wacik agreed to add to the quota for Kalimantan as well as other cities and regencies. The additional quota was taken from the 2.5 million KL held as an emergency reserve under the government’s current quota system.

“After the agreement was made, Kalimantan regional administrations have to be able to persuade their people to no longer take such extreme actions like the blockades which will be counter-productive for our national interest,” he said to the Post in a telephone interview.

He also hoped that mining and plantation companies would supervise its vehicles and not buy subsidized fuels and cause scarcity to help regional administrations maintain the consumption of subsidized fuels and not exceed the quota.