Toward Energy Sustainability :
An Executive Interview with
Prof. Widjajono Partowidagdo, Ph.D
Member of DEN (National Energy Council)
The special Interview with Prof. Widjajono Partowidagdo was conducted on 12 May 2009 after he shared his views in the SPE Java Section’s monthly Technical Discussion Group (TDG). His talk covered the latest energy outlook, in which the world today consumes 230 MMBOEPD, with oil and gas supplying 60%, coal supplying 20%, and nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar supplying the remaining 20%. By 2020, worldwide energy demand is expected to increase to 285 MMBOEPD with 80% of the growth in developing countries. This is a daunting task for oil and gas authorities, companies and professionals, because 15 years is a relatively short period in our business.
His talk in our TDG challenged the techno-economical sustainability of Presidential Decree No.5/2006, which targets a 17% contribution of renewable energy in Indonesia’s energy mix by 2025, whilst the contribution of natural gas has been assigned to rise from 27% to 31% and coal is assigned to rise from 14% to 33%. This decree seems to ignore our non-renewable energy deliverability and scarcity limits.
In this simple and ‘human interest’ interview, the SPE Java Section Board & Committee were represented by Deden Supriyatman (Chairman), Prijo Hutomo (TDG’s Leader), Yani Siskartika (Committee Member), Dian N. Cahyono (Committee Member), Megawaty (Section Officer). Deden Supriyatman commenced the interview as follows:
SPE: Prof. Widjajono, thank so much for your time. SPE highly appreciates your presentation of Sustainable Energy in our TDG program, which is one of SPE Java’s favorite programs. Firstly, can you tell us the reason why you pursued a Petroleum Engineering degree from ITB in Bandung?
Prof Widjajono Partowidagdo (WP): At first, I planned to apply for Chemical Engineering and Pharmacy because I loved chemistry. However, after reading a student guide book, published by Student Body of ITB, I changed my choices to Petroleum Engineering (PE) and Chemical Engineering. I saw a picture of Pertamina's car and I read that it was easy to get scholarship in Petroleum Engineering.
SPE: You earned your post graduate degrees in the USA. Can you tell us about it briefly?
WP: After graduating from PE, I won a Caltex scholarship which enabled me to pursue a Masters degree in Petroleum Engineering in one year. Afterwards, I received scholarship from US AID ( Agency for International Development) to pursue other two Master degrees in Operations Research and Economics at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, USA. Later, from the same university, I earned a PhD with dissertation on "An Oil and Gas Supply and Economics Model for Indonesia."
SPE: You are busy as an ITB faculty member, and yet you are still have energy to be involved in other public institutions. It seems that you do not have a time constraint.
WP: I believe the best way to be useful and to benefit myself and others is to give and to share. If you want to double your happiness, share it. Teaching and involvement in public service are two forms of sharing. Apart from these, I follow the principle that teaching and writing are the best methods to learn, so along the way I am continuously learning whilst doing.
SPE: Tell us about your family, how many children do you have? How you manage a life balance?
WP (…smiling): I have one daughter and one wife. Well, in brief, we have to manage life in a comprehensive manner among our work, family, friends and society. Prof. Widjajono then showed his most recent picture in Tanzania where he supported a mountain-climbing campaign to fund ‘lupus disease’ awareness.
SPE: Generally what pillars, do you think are needed to improve welfare in our country?
WP: To the best of my knowledge there are four pillars which are able to improve our country’s welfare. The first is clean government officials who are just and professional. The second is prominent academicians who tell the truth based on their knowledge. The third is rich people assisting their poor fellow citizens. The fourth is common people who are patient, working and learning hard, and trying to be independent. These pillars have to be integrated with proper coordination, synergy and cooperation. Also, a good country is one that dares to learn from mistakes made by its leaders and its people and by leaders and people in other countries. We are learning to be better. Actually if we improve our habits and remember our faults from the past, we will develop sustainability.
SPE: Could you share your opinion about the role of professional associations?
WP: The most important role of professional associations is to serve their main stakeholders: their members on technical and non-technical aspects, and the authorities to improve industry by proposing best practices such as simplifying bureaucracy.
SPE: Would you please tell us why you were selected to be a member of the National Energy Council (Dewan Energi Nasional, DEN)?
WP: To be a member of DEN, one has to be selected by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources plus the House of Representatives (DPR). Before that, we were tested comprehensively through some physical tests, a psycho test, an English test, some paper tests and verbal interviews. There were more than 120 persons tested and finally 8 (eight) persons were accepted including myself. Perhaps because I am a lecturer I could clearly describe what the Examiners wanted to know.
SPE: Could you give a simple example to implement energy sustainability?
WP: I am ridding buses or using mass-public transports more than ridding my own cars. Well, one way to conserve energy is to prioritie energy usage to public transport. I believe that if people are aware of this then our country will save a lot of energy. Private cars consume a lot of subsidized energy. Also, one must always campaign the use of our alternative and renewable energy such as geothermal and Coal Bed Methane (CBM). Increasing government take on coal (by adding depletion premium) to pay for increased health care costs associated with mining coal and breathing polluted air, the costs of acid rain and climate disruption in Sumatra and Java would encourage investment in clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources such as geothermal, biofuel, microhydro, wind and solar.
SPE: The world is presently experiencing a financial crisis, that also impacts our country. You as a petroleum economist and many prominent economists often refer to Mr. Adam Smith. What is your comment on his theory on market economy?
WP: Adam Smith’s theory is valid, provided one applies both the self-restraint and self-interest parts. Currently a lot of countries apply the self-interest part but not the self-restraint part, which leads to imbalance and economical crisis. Self-interest means obtaining maximum results for himself, and to get optimum results we have to consider restraint. The restraint is sharing what we get with others. If we wish that God loves us, we have to love His creatures. Sustainable business is not maximizing profit, it is maximizing value for all stakeholders: individual, society and environment.
SPE: What can we do to improve academic life and education in country?
WP: Collect more funds to properly support the education of our people. The Meiji restoration in Japan was the restoration of education. They replaced Japanese education system "to memorize" with American education system " to understand". However, after the strong influence of American way of life to Japanese society as seen in “The Last Samurai”, the Samurai rebelled. After the Samurais were killed by Kaisar’s army backed by American’s modern weapons, the Kaisar regretted and said: "We are pursuing modernization but we must not forget who we are and where we come from." Japanese adopted academic and scientific life from the West while preserving their own traditions and cultures. Japan progressed whilst retaining their own traditions. We can do the same in Indonesia.
SPE: Talking about the depletion premium from oil and gas, where should we allocate the funds?
WP: We should allocate the funds to: 1. attract investors by providing better information for exploration in oil, gas, geothermal and CBM. 2. develop National Ability (Companies, Education and Research) in both non renewable and renewable energies. 3. develop infrastructures to support energy development. 4. subsidize public transportation. 5. educate people for efficient energy utilization. We know that people need to use mass transport to minimize the consumption of energy and pollution.
SPE: What can SPE do to support the work of National Energy Council, DEN?
WP: Contribute to DEN or government case studies and lessons-learnt, with proposal of best practices. The SPE can also support researchers to acquire practical knowledge necessary to better contribute to public welfare and energy sustainability.
SPE: How do we increase oil production in our country?
WP: The Government must increase the quality of investment climate in Indonesia by minimizing corruption, increase the coordination among executive and legislative, among central and local governments, among departments and increase the quality of regulations and bureaucracy. 2. BP MIGAS must simplify bureaucracy. It is getting better by hiring ex-employees from KKKS Companies who have experience in international petroleum business and by having representatives in KKKS companies. 3. The quality of communications between Directorate General MIGAS, BP MIGAS, KKKS need to be improved. The P3M (Supervising for increasing production) Team needs to approach The Government and KKKS to identify problems and solve them together.
From Left to Right: Deden Supriyatman (SPE Java Indonesia Chairman), Prijo Hutomo (TDG Moderator), Prof.Dr.Widjajono Partowidagdo (National Energy Council, Main TDG Speaker), Dr.Parulian Sihotang (BPMIGAS, TDG Speaker)
The Two Invited Speakers : (from Left) Prof. Widjajono (National Energy Council, DEN) and Dr.Parulian Sihotang (BP MIGAS, Finance)