Getting Bullish on Indonesia

Over the past several months, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Jakarta.  Partnering with Pertamina, Indonesia’s state-owned oil and natural gas business, we’re advancing a Joint Statement of Cooperation to develop Celanese’s proprietary technology to make fuel ethanol for use in Indonesia. I have also had the opportunity to get to know our other businesses there as well as we have a long history of doing business in Indonesia with our Acetate and our Acetyls businesses. 

From where I stand, there are several reasons to be bullish on our future in Indonesia:

The Celanese teams continue to develop opportunities for even more growth in Indonesia – supporting our customers and their needs for our applications and solutions. But the road will be challenging. 

While infrastructure is improving, the government still has relatively little funding to invest in it.  One of the reasons for this is directly tied to our project in fuel ethanol.  Because Indonesia has to import over 50% of its refined gasoline, the country spends approximately $12 billion per year to subsidize fuel so it can be more affordable for its citizens.  Helping reduce the country’s dependency on imported energy is one of the key factors driving our project. 

Another positive for Indonesia is that the government has increased its emphasis on eliminating the political and business corruption that has plagued the country for decades.  As a  U.S. corporation, and consistent with our corporate values, we are committed to always being compliant with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits, among other items, bribery and other illegal payments.  Happily, every time I visit I see many successful multi-nationals in Indonesia that work effectively in this same environment.

On my last visit, I met with Scot Marcial, the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia since 2010.  When I asked him for his advice on how to be successful in Indonesia, he said “Be patient.  Be persistent.  And have a sense of humor.”

This sounds like pretty good advice for us wherever our business travels may take us.

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About the author


Mark Oberle is senior vice president for Asia at Celanese. He’s also an avid runner and dad of two.

There are 9 comments. Add yours.

  1. Helen Yu says:

    We have a very dedicated team working on the fuel ethanol project in Indonesia, which has gained very strong support from Indonesian government. Look forward to seeing more and more milestones to be achieved in the coming years!

    • Mark Oberle says:

      Thanks for the question. We”ll have the timeline more ”final” as we move through the rest of this year. Our objective would to be in a position to have a go/no go decision and break ground by the end of the year. There is still a lot of work to do and we”ll try to be as expedient as possible. We believe it will take about 30 months to complete construction, but that will also be dependent on which site we would choose in Indonesia.

  2. Massimiliano Contin says:

    An amazing country with great potentials….great opportunity!! Be patient and have a sense of humor then….good luck !!

  3. Sunny CHEN says:

    Good information Mark. The SEA AEM team is also having a strong belief that Indonesia will become an up and coming market for Ticona”s products. Our team is dedicated and working hard to explore new opportunity in Indonesia, especially in Automobile and Consumer Electronics market places, with many new new direct foreign investment pouring in.

    • Mark Oberle says:

      Sunny – I agree with you. I think there are tremendous opportunities for our engineered materials in Indonesia: auto applications, water filtration, electronics. All of these challenges require the types of solutions our engineers can bring to our customers.

  4. Erik Kushadiwijaya says:

    Hi Mark,
    I am really interested in this project, it will help Indonesia government a lot. Is there any update on progress in Indonesia?



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