Pertamina Hulu Energi (PHE) aims to produce between 170,000 and 180,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) from the celebrated Rokan block in Riau once it takes the block over next year.

PHE president director Budiman Pahursip said on Wednesday the company aimed to maintain such output levels by drilling new oil wells starting “the first day” of the takeover, which is on Aug. 8, 2021.

“This is important during a takeover to ensure production does not drop sharply,” he said during a webinar hosted by extractive industry watchdog Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia.

He went on to say that PHE, a subsidiary of state-owned oil giant Pertamina, would continually drill new wells in the aging Rokan block in pushing production up to 200,000 bopd. He did not mention a timeline.

The block yielded 190,131 bopd last year under the helm of PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI), a subsidiary of one of the world’s biggest oil companies, Chevron.

Pertamina will be taking over the 50-year-old block, which is the country’s second-most productive oil block, from CPI next year, when the latter company’s permit is slated to expire.

Pertamina, Chevron and the Indonesian government, through the Upstream Oil and Gas Special Regulatory Taskforce (SKK Migas), have formed a steering committee to ensure Rokan’s smooth takeover, defined as one without a sharp drop in output.

“At this time, we are collaborating closely with SKK Migas to prepare the technical implementation,” a CPI spokeswoman told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

“We are grateful for the government’s direction and initiative to provide solutions to invest to optimize national oil production,” she added.

SKK Migas had previously ordered Chevron to drill 11 new oil wells in November this year. The new wells are expected to boost block output by 3,000 bopd, prior to the takeover.

Despite being one of the country’s most celebrated blocks,  Rokan block’s output has steadily declined over the past few years due to the natural exhaustion of reserves.

The government expects nationalizing the block to maintain production levels, which saw a landmark decline of 9.2 percent year-on-year to 190,131 bopd in 2019. Prior to 2019, the oil block was the country’s most productive.