President Joko Widodo announced live the reshuffle of the government’s working cabinet yesterday afternoon (27/7). He introduced nine new assistants, including Arcandra Tahar who replaces Sudirman Said as the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources.
Although Candra is not particularly well known among state officials, the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Mechanical Engineering graduate is well known among academics in the oil and gas sector. (See figure: New Ministers in President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet).
After graduating in 1996, Candra continued his study at Texas A&M University, on a scholarship from PT Timah. After obtaining a master’s degree in ocean engineering in 1998, Chandra went on to complete a doctorate at the same university, graduating in 2001.
Information obtained by Katadata indicates that Candra became involved in policy making during the government discussions of the development of the Masela Block. He recommended an onshore refinery development for the block to the Energy Ministry’s Director General of Oil and Gas I.G.N. Wiratmaja Puja and Deputy Presidential Staff Darmawan Prasodjo in April 2015.
However, according to the same source, Candra had no wish to meet or confront the government’s Special Task Force for Upstream Oil and Gas Business Activities (SKK Migas) or the block’s operators Inpex Corporation and Shell.
A source within the Presidential Palace and other oil and gas officials said that Candra rose to the surface when the conflict between Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli and Minister of Energy Sudirman Said became more intense. (Read: Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs: Ministry of Energy Wants Sole Control of Masela Block).
The two ministers stood their ground. Sudirman backed the SKK Migas recommendation to develop an offshore refinery or FLNG, as proposed by Inpex, as the most economic option. Rizal, meanwhile, strongly opposed this option, recommending instead an onshore refinery for its more favourable multiplier effect.
Candra presented his views to SKK Migas and President Joko Widodo in early 2016. A Katadata source said that his main access to the Presidential Palace was through the Presidential Staff office. Another source said that he was also encouraged by the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Law and Security.
He presented an analysis of the potential the onshore and offshore options for the Masela Block to President Joko Widodo. He also compared Masela with similar projects, such as the gas fields in Arun and Bontang, and Bintulu in Malaysia.
“The President found the presentation very interesting,” Candra said. On 23 March 2016, the President opted for onshore development of the Masela Block. (Read: Joko Widodo Opts for Onshore Development for Masela Block).
The same source added that another factor contributing to Candra’s appointment as Minister of Energy was his experience in the oil and gas sector. As well as being a research assistant at the Offshore Technology Research Center from 1997 to 2001, Candra was also a technical advisor to Noble Denton in 2000 and researcher at Technip Offshore from 2001 to 2006.
Candra was also Hydrodynamics Lead Float Tec LLC for a year in 2006, before becoming Principal and President of AGR Deepwater Development System for Asia Pacific from 2007-2009. From 2009 to 2013, he worked at Principal Horton Wison Deepwater, and has been President of Petroneering since 2013.
He also works as consultant for Pertamina Hulu Energy in the ONWJ Block. Born in Minang, Candra holds the patent for the Multi Column TLP (McT) Floating Platform, planned for use in the L-Parigi Field. (Read: Sri Mulyani Enters Cabinet, Rupiah and Stock Market Strengthen).
Other experience in the oil and gas field include product development, wave basin model testing, offshore field measurement, deepwater platform design and analysis, FPSO analysis, shallow water platform design and analysis (buoyant tower), mooring design and analysis, riser design and analysis, naval architecture, hydrodynamics software development, asset integrity management, wave energy, and offshore drilling.