Indonesia shakes up corruption-tainted energy ministry

JAKARTA - Indonesia's new energy minister on Tuesday launched a major shakeup of the graft-tainted ministry, requiring all top directors to re-apply for their jobs.

Oil Minister Sudirman Said took office last month and pledged to repair the image of his ministry, which has been rocked by a series of high-profile corruption scandals that implicated several top oil officials.

Said dismissed his director general of oil and gas last week after presidential advisers gave the unit a poor review. "Building a reputation and public trust is our homework," Said told reporters. "We want to refresh our organisation...we want to put in place better people."

The minister said all oil, gas and mining director positions would be open to internal applicants and those currently in those jobs would need to re-apply. The overhaul would be imposed in stages over the next few months.

Indonesia was once self-sufficient in oil and gas but has been struggling for years to attract investment to halt declining output from a peak of around 1.6 million barrels per day in 1995.

The former OPEC member, which currently produces around 800,000 bpd, is now a major fuel importer.

Said's predecessor, Jero Wacik, stepped down in September after being named a suspect in a case involving extortion and kickbacks worth about $841,000.

A few months before that, the former head of Indonesia's energy regulator, SKKMigas, was jailed for seven years for taking over $1 million in bribes from the owner of a Singapore-based oil company.