Anglo-Eastern Plantations Plc was formed and floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1985 to acquire and develop four estates in North Sumatra, previously owned by several UK based plantation companies.
The largest of these estates was Tasik, whose development, as a 6,000 hectare (ha) oil palm estate, commenced in 1983. The other three smaller estates, totalling 3,700ha comprising rubber and cocoa, had been established in the 1920s. Funds raised from the flotation were used to complete the development of Tasik, where a 45mt/hr palm oil mill was commissioned in 1991, later upgraded to 60mt/hr in 2005.
In 1993 Genton International (see Shareholders) acquired a controlling holding in Anglo-Eastern. Following a one-for-two rights issue in 1995 the company embarked on an expansion programme comprising:
acquisition of a small (800ha) oil palm estate (Anak Tasik) in North Sumatra in 1995;
acquisition in 1995 and development of land totalling 17,600ha in the province of Bengkulu in southern Sumatra;
acquisition in 1995 of an immature oil palm estate in Peninsular Malaysia.
In Bengkulu a 40mt/hr mill was commissioned in 2002 and upgraded to 60mt/hr in 2004. In June 2007, 15,004 ha had been planted.
In March 2004 the company acquired a neglected oil palm estate of 4,300 ha, called Bina Pitri located in the province of Riau, about 180km south of Tasik. Consideration was $10m. Rights to a further 900ha of land were acquired in 2004 and planted in 2005 bringing the planted area of this property to 4,940 ha. The formerly neglected areas have been rehabilitated. A 30mt/hr mill (expandable to 60mt/hr) was completed in April 2007.
In December 2004 a 20mt/hr mill was commissioned on Blankahan estate, one of the three smaller estates originally acquired in 1985; this mill processes crop from those estates, which were substantially converted to oil palm in 1992/3. All remaining cocoa was removed in 2007. A small area of rubber has been retained.
In December 2004 the company acquired the rights over 4,200ha of vacant land, called Labuhan Bilik, about 130km north of Tasik, at a cost of $0.4m, and has added 1,336 ha since then. In June 2007 1,629 ha had been planted and the area was fully planted in year 2009.
In June 2007 the company acquired another neglected oil palm estate of 4,470 ha, Cahaya Pelita Andhika, of which about 1,020 ha were planted and mature. The estate is located on the west coast of North Sumatra, about 180km from the nearest existing group estate, Tasik. The planted areas were rehabilitated and the unplanted areas were planted over five years after acquisition. Until a mill is built, crops are processed at Tasik.
In December 2007 the group acquired two blocks of lands rights. The first comprises 26,000 ha in the province of Central Kalimantan and the second consists of 7,000 ha in Bangka Island. In January 2008 a further 15,000 ha was acquired in Bengkulu, near to the group's existing estates. All three areas are scrub and previously logged secondary forest. It is estimated that of the total land area, 20,000 ha is plantable. Planting are done progressively starting in 2009.
In 2008, the group acquired a 95% equity interest in PT Riau Agrindo Agung (RAA), an Indonesian company owning the rights to 15,000 ha of vacant land in Bengkulu, and a 95% equity interest in PT Empat Lawang Agro Perkasa (ELAP) and PT Karya Kencana Sentosa Tiga (KKST); two Indonesian companies which hold the rights to 14,100 ha and 16,000 ha respectively in South Sumatra. The total addition of 45,100 ha brings the group's total landholding to 132,000 ha from 86,900 ha in the previous year. These new properties all have "rights to occupy" (Izin Lokasi) which will be converted to a formal title of rights (Hak Guna Usaha (HGU)).
In 2009, we succeeded in getting the crucial land conversion permit from the Indonesian Forestry Department in Central Kalimantan project.
In 2010, we planted 7,580 hectares of oil palm mainly in Kalimantan, boosting our planted area by 16% to 52,000 hectares. In the same year, we acquired PT Kahayan with the initial "Izin Lokasi" area of 17,500 hectares.
The new Sumindo mill (45 MT/hour) was commissioned in May 2010. Construction work to increase Blankahan mill processing capacity from 25 MT/hour to 40 MT/hour was started in December 2010 and completed in 2011 at a cost of $1.5 million.
In 2011, we planted 4,800 hectares of oil palm mainly in Kalimantan, boosting our planted area by 9% to 57,100 hectares. New plantings remained behind planned schedule due to adverse dry weather conditions in South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, alongside with certain hold-up in issuing of necessary permits due to the introduced timber cutting licenses ("IPK").
The Group's had invested $4.5million in the biogas and biomass project for one of the mills in North Sumatera of which civil works for the plant commenced in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the whole project was completed in 2014. This project enhances the waste management treatment of the mill and at the same time mitigates emissions of biogas. The successful implementation and running of this project will pave the way for further similar undertakings for the rest of the Group's mills.In 2012, the Group planted 1,900ha of oil palm mainly in Kalimantan, boosting planted area by 3% to 59,000ha. New plantings remained behind schedule due to protracted negotiations over settlement of land compensation with villagers and a delay in the issuance of land release permit (Izin Pelepasan) for two plantations. However, one of these plantations has obtained the necessary permit and clearing of land for planting are carried out progressively.
Permits for the construction of palm oil mills in North Sumatera and Central Kalimantan were held up by local authorities in 2012. The earthworks for the Central Kalimantan mill was commenced in fourth quarter of 2012 but was disrupted by heavy rainfall in the second quarter of 2013. The mill construction was finally completed in the second quarter of 2015. It began commercial operation in the third quarter with an initial capacity to process FFB at a rate of 45mt/hr.
In 2015, the Group opened up new land and planted 1,826ha of oil palm mainly in Kalimantan, boosting planted area including Plasma by 3% to 65,100ha (2014: 63,500ha). This excludes the replanting of 1,423ha of oil palm in North Sumatera. Another 166ha of ageing rubber trees were replanted with oil palm.
In 2016, the Group has completed 1,606ha of new planting of oil palm mainly in Kalimantan, boasting planted area including Plasma by 2.4% to 66,670ha in addition to the replanting of 1,516ha of oil palm in North Sumatera.
Besides, two more biogas plants in Bengkulu and Kalimantan are in the final stages of construction and are estimated to cost a total of $6.8 million. Biogas engines have been installed with the ancillary works covering gas piping and electrical works still in progress. The testing and commissioning should be completed soon and the biogas plants are expected to be operational from the second quarter of 2017. The plants when completed are expected to generate a combined 3 Megawatt of electrical power. A surplus of 15.6 million kWh of electricity worth $1.2 million is projected to be generated per year which the Group intends to sell to the state electricity company. The use of clean energy in the mills will further reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and improve the Group's carbon foot print.
Negotiations to sell the surplus power estimated in excess of 5 million kWh per year to the Indonesian National Electricity Company from its new biogas plant in North Sumatera has been approved by the local authority in January 2017 after the completion of a feasibility study and all the required permits.
In 2017, the Group opened up new land and planted 1,808ha of oil palm mainly in Kalimantan, boasting planted area including smallholder cooperative scheme, known as Plasma, by 2.5% to 68,310ha (2016: 66,670ha). This excludes the replanting of 1,694ha of oil palm in North Sumatera. New plantings remain behind schedule due to delays in finalising settlement of land compensation with villagers in South Sumatera, Bangka and Kalimantan. The villagers seek compensation beyond what the Group considered fair and reasonable resulting in protracted negotiations.
The 2 megawatt biogas plants in Bengkulu are supplying electricity to the State Electricity Company. In the eight months of operation, it generated 4,807MWh of electricity worth $0.3 million. The sale of electricity is, however, frequently interrupted by power blackout in the state electricity supply caused by faulty transmission lines and unstable power voltage. The situation is likely to improve in the second half of 2018 after upgrade and repairs of transmission lines are completed. The third biogas plant in Kalimantan has been completed and is ready for commissioning. The three biogas plants will further reduce the mills’ reliance on fossil fuels and improve the Group’s carbon footprint. With the current shortage of power supply in North Sumatera, the Group is conducting a feasibility study to build its fourth biogas plant in Rantau Prabat which is expected to cost up to $3.8 million. The state electricity company has reacted positively to the proposal to build a biogas plant in North Sumatera.
The Group will start construction of its seventh mill in North Sumatera in 2018. The 60mt/hr mill is expected to cost $19 million and will be substantially funded by internal cash flows. Costs of civil and structural works including earthworks would be higher as the mill is built on shallow peat soil. The site needs to be compacted with mineral soil and 38 meters long concrete piles to support the construction of the mill and storage facilities. The Group has over the past three years explored various sites outside the plantation and along the Barumun river for the construction of a mill, however, it was not able to obtain the necessary permit which allows conversion of agricultural into industrial land.