World Economy

OPEC's Indonesia is ‘comfortable’ with crude oil prices at $40-45 per barrel

Focus on quality rather than level of growth: Indonesia FinMin
Focus on quality rather than level of growth: Indonesia FinMin

Indonesia's finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told CNBC she was optimistic her country could receive a ratings upgrade this year — despite oil being pinned below $50, levels at which she said her country is generally "comfortable."

Despite the low price of crude walloping other OPEC nations, Indonesia, which is part of the G-20 group of the world's biggest economies, is managing to ride out the crisis. It has a coveted investment grade credit rating from Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, but not yet from Standard & Poor's.

Indrawati told CNBC she hoped Indonesia's rating might be upgraded in 2016, with the Indonesian government engaged in programs to boost infrastructure spending, open up the private sector and reform taxation.

Barry Kusuma | Getty Images

"We are very much confident — this is very much the focus of all the reform of the fiscal (policies), that we are going to have much more credible, coherent narrative (of) policy," Indrawati told CNBC at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China on Sunday.

"It's a very strong package (of) macro prudent and the very ambitious structural reform. Not a country in which growth is generated by a bubble activity but real, deep reform that can be sustainable, so I'm optimistic that it could happen," she added.

The International Monetary Fund sees Indonesia's economy growing by a healthy 4.9 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2017.

In June, Standard & Poor's affirmed Indonesia's rating outlook at "BB+" with a positive outlook, implying the country's credit status could be hiked to investment grade. Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service already rank Indonesia in this category, which indicates a debt issuer is less likely to default than peers assigned a "speculative grade" rating.

Oil 'sustained' below $45

Indonesia oil well
Fuse | Getty Images

Indonesia is the only OPEC member country in Asia-Pacific and has the largest economy in the south east of the region. It exported $6.4 billion worth of petroleum in 2015, according to OPEC data.

Indrawati forecast crude oil would remain at today's historically low levels between $40 and $45 per barrel, baring disruption from security problems or natural disasters.

"If we look at the purely supply and demand, I think that is going to be sustained," she told CNBC.

"We already have put in a budget of around $40-$45 and (at) that level, we're looking at all the situation in the supply side of the oil and gas, as well as the demand side, I'm comfortable with that level," the minister added separately.

WTI crude futures for October fell back below $45 last week. Light crude has rallied by around 19 percent this year, but remains far below the levels above $100 traded at prior to the commodities rout of July 2014 onward.

Petroleum and natural gas are major industries for Indonesia, but manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and mining are also significant. The country exported 315,100 of barrels of crude oil per day in 2015, according to statistics from OPEC, which Indonesia rejoined in July.

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