The Old Dutch Oil Companies in Indonesia

The Balikpapan Refinery – Photo courtesy of Tropenmuseum

Since the early 1900s, with oil discoveries in Sumatera in 1885, Java in 1887, and Kalimantan in 1891, Indonesia has been recognized as an important oil-producing country outside America.

By 1900 there were already 18 oil companies operating in Indonesia. It is interesting to note that only companies registered in Nederland and managed by the Dutch could operate in Indonesia at that time.  The reason for this was up until World War II, Indonesia was under the administration of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI).

These old Dutch oil companies played important roles in putting Indonesia on the world map as a significant producer of crude oil and fuels. They discovered and developed many oilfields in Indonesia, and even built refineries in Sumatera, Java, and Borneo. By 1938, oil production had reached 140,000 barrels per day.

By 1945, the year when Indonesia declared its independence, due to acquisitions and mergers, the number of oil companies had reduced to just four: BPM (Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij), NIAM (Nederlands Indische Aardolie Maatschappij), STANVAC, and CALTEX.

Stanvac and Caltex which were owned by their American parent companies started as Dutch-registered companies.

After 1965, when Pertamina acquired BPM, all the oil companies with Dutch names no longer existed. Nevertheless, their names appeared in many old and new articles and are often cited in research papers.

Since the names of the old Dutch oil companies in Indonesia consisted of long Dutch words, they were often written in their acronyms.

Here is the glossary of the acronyms of some of the old Dutch oil companies that operated in Indonesia in the past. 

BPM – Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij

DPM – Doordsche Petroleum Maatschappij

KNPM – Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij

NIAM – Nederlands Indische Aardolie Maatschappij

SPPM – Sumatera Palembang Petroleum Maatschappij

MEPM – Muara Enim Petroleum Maatschappij

NNGPM – Nederlandsche Nieuw Guinea Petroleum Maatschappij

SVPM – Standard Vacuum Petroleum Maatstchappij

SVTM – Standard Vacuum Tankvaart Maatschappij

NKPM – Nederlandsche Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij

NPPM – Nederlandsche Pacific Petroleum Maatschappij 

SMOB – Steenkolen Maatschappij Oost Borneo

NIIHM – Nederlandch Indisch Industrie en Handel Maatschappij

If you are interested in the history of oil in Indonesia, please read The Three Big Oil Companies in Indonesia before 1945.  

This article is written by Jamin Djuang – Chief Learning Officer of LDI Training and author of The Story of Oil and Gas: How Oil and Gas Are Explored, Drilled and Produced.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s