Indonesia hopes to rejoin OPEC by year-end

VIENNA - Indonesia hopes to rejoin OPEC by oil producer group's next meeting in around six months' time, Energy Minister Sudirman Said said on Thursday.

Last month, the minister said the country's President Joko Widodo had agreed to a plan for Indonesia to rejoin the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, over six years after Southeast Asia's biggest crude producer left the group.

"We didn't withdraw our membership, we just suspended it," Said told reporters in Vienna ahead of OPEC's meeting on Friday in which the group is expected to agree on maintaining its current production ceiling for the next six months.

He said OPEC, of which 12 countries are currently members, would discuss the request soon.

"There is no requirement at OPEC to be a net exporter to be able to be a member," the minister added.

Indonesia was the only Asian OPEC member for nearly 50 years before leaving the group in early 2009 as oil prices hit a record high. Rising domestic demand and falling production turned it into the net oil importer it remains currently.

Full OPEC members must be net oil exporters, but so-called associate members can be admitted under some circumstances, according to OPEC's statues.

Said said Indonesia could help "bridge the gap" between oil producing and consuming nations by re-joining the group, and was looking at opportunities to work and develop resources in OPEC countries.

"We also intend to develop renewables," he said.