It’s thought that buyers in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan may divert up to 12 cargoes of contracted Indonesian LNG to other markets this year, as demand wanes in light of the global economic downturn.

Those are the sentiments of a senior government official, according to recent media reports.

Hari Karulianto, Head of LNG Business at Indonesian state-owned PT Pertamina, noted that the possible decision to divert the cargoes arose as the global economic chaos reduced demand in the three Asian nations of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

$quot;They will not drop the imports [from Indonesia],$quot; said Karulianto, who also indicated that the exact volume of the diverted cargoes remains unclear but, $quot;could be about 12 cargoes.$quot;

It’s thought that the diverted LNG could be sold to markets in Asia or Europe.

February saw Pertamina, PT Total E&P Indonesie, and Inpex Corp. agree to extend their LNG supply contracts to six Japanese buyers. Under the preliminary agreement, the contract for Chubu EPC, Kansai EPC, Kyushu EPC, Nippon Steel Co. Ltd, Osaka Gas Co. Ltd., and Toho Gas Co. Ltd. will be extended from 2011 to 2020.

The agreement will involve 25 million tonnes of LNG to be shipped over the period from the Bontang LNG plant in East Kalimantan, which is supplied by the Total Indonesie-operated Mahakam Block.

Meanwhile, Lukman Mahfoedz, President Director of PT Medco E&P Indonesia (a member of the consortium developing the Donggi and Senoro gas blocks in Central Sulawesi) said that LNG from those two blocks would be ready for delivery at yearend 2012.