Bidayuh oil and gas veteran picked as Petros CEO, industry sources say

OIL industry veteran Saau Kakok is expected to head Sarawak-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) after months of searching for a chief executive officer, industry sources say.

Saau, who was former special projects vice-president for Asia of the US-based independent oil company Hess Corporation, is the man Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg has headhunted for the job and was not among the numerous applicants for the post, they said.

The 64 year-old is one of only a handful of Bidayuh oil and gas executives holding very senior positions in a multi-national petroleum company.

According to his profile on his LinkedIn page, he resigned from his vice-president position at Hess at the end of last year.

Abang Johari on Sunday said he has found “the right person for the job” and gave only one hint – that the person was a Bidayuh with experience in oil and gas industry.

The Bidayuh are the second largest of state’s ethnic tribes.

Petroleum-rich Sarawak formed Petros last year amid long-standing unhappiness over the 5% oil and gas royalty the state receives from the federal government. Sarawak has been demanding that the amount be increased to 20%.

The state government said Petros would be of “equal status” as national oil company Petronas and was meant to protect Sarawak’s interest in the industry by allowing it to participate in upstream oil and gas development, particularly in the exploration and extraction of oil and gas within Sarawak waters.

Oil and gas executives have told The Malaysian Insight that Saau was indeed picked for the job as the native of Ulu Padawan, located just outside Kuching the state capital, was a person with vast experience in the industry.

“It’s Saau. We are positive it’s him as he has been having a few meetings with Petros board chairman Hamid Bugo over the position this week,” an executive said.

Saau joined Hess in 2011 as vice-president of global new business development.

He completed his tertiary education at University of Malaya, graduating with honours in a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1977.

Like many Sarawakians, he first joined the oil and gas industry via Shell.

His LinkedIn page stated his last position at Shell as vice-president of Shell EP International Ltd, a position he held from 2007 to 2009.

In Hess, Saau has held several positions including vice-president for Asia-Pacific, as a director in Hess Malaysia and Thailand Ltd, in Hess Oil & Gas Sdn Bhd and in Hess (Indonesia-South Sesulu) Limited.

He was with the London-based Hess (Indonesia-South Sesulu) Ltd from January 2014 to December 31, 2016.

Wilfred Nissom, one of his former teachers at the Dragon Secondary School (later renamed SMK Tun Abdul Razak), described Saau as “very sharp but quiet and humble”.

He also remembered Sauu as being a good athlete who had represented the school as a long-distance runner in inter-school sports meets.

The Malaysian Insight was also told by industry sources that the “humble” Saau had expressed that he was not good enough for the job and had asked Hamid to look for someone else.

Last November, Hamid said the Petros board was in the midst of screening 40 applications for the post that was advertised in local and national newspapers.

The other members of the Petros board are Bintulu Port Holdings CEO Mohammad Medan Abdullah, Sarawak Energy Bhd CEO Sharbini Suhaili, former Shell Gas & Power Malaysia managing director Heng Hock Cheng and Sarawak Public Works Department director Zuraimi Sabki.

All of them had served in various capacities in the oil and gas industry. – February 14, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/37884

Sarawak teliti cadangan ambil alih kepentingan PETRONAS

KUCHING: Kerajaan Sarawak disaran menjalankan kajian terperinci berhubung cadangan mengambil alih kepentingan dalam Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) yang merangkumi konsesi di luar negara.

Pejabat Ketua Menteri Sarawak memaklumkan saranan itu dikemukakan Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dalam pertemuan bersama Ketua Menteri Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg dan Ketua Menteri Sabah, Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal di Putrajaya, Isnin lalu.

“Saranan itu dibuat selepas mengambil kira hakikat bahawa PETRONAS adalah sebuah syarikat minyak global yang memiliki konsesi di seberang laut, khususnya Asia Tengah, Afrika dan Amerika Utara terutama Kanada,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan, di sini hari ini.

Dalam pertemuan selama 90 minit itu, ketiga-tiga tiga pemimpin terbabit turut membincangkan pelbagai isu yang mempunyai kaitan dengan hak Sabah dan Sarawak terhadap sumber gas serta minyak di kedua-dua negeri terbabit.

Menurut kenyataan itu lagi, pada pertemuan itu, Abang Johari turut memaklumkan, Sarawak sedang mengukuhkan penyertaan Syarikat Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (PETROS) dalam aktiviti huluan serta hiliran industri minyak dan gas di negeri ini.

“Ia selaras dengan Ordinan Perlombongan Minyak (OMO) 1958 dan peruntukan yang relevan dalam Perlembagaan Sarawak,” katanya.

Source: https://www.bharian.com.my/berita/wilayah/2019/12/639712/sarawak-teliti-cadangan-ambil-alih-kepentingan-petronas

Hydrogen as energy source

KUCHING: Sarawak is moving ahead in its green energy agenda with the launch of an integrated hydrogen production plant and refuelling station, touted as the first in South East Asia.

Built by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) in collaboration with Linde EOX Sdn Bhd, the facility includes a plant that produces hydrogen through electrolysis and a refuelling station for the state’s first hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The station will initially service three hydrogen fuel cell buses operated by the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and two cars in SEB’s corporate fleet.

“In Sarawak, we have a green energy agenda. Besides hydropower, we are now exploring hydrogen as another source of energy,” Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said when launching the facility at SEB’s western regional office.

He said the state planned to introduce three-in-one fuel stations after this, which would cater for vehicles powered by fossil fuel, electricity and hydrogen.

Abang Johari (in driver’s seat) and Abdul Hamed trying out a hydrogen  cell-powered car.   

The stations will be set up by state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) and SEDC.

“We are going to set up initially five stations, starting at the end of this year. That is our next move,” he said.

Meanwhile, SEB chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi said the hydrogen plant can produce 130kg of hydrogen daily and is capable of fully refuelling up to five fuel cell buses and 10 fuel cell cars per day.

“We are working together with SEDC who leads the hydrogen-fuelled bus pilot project to improve and green our public transportation system.

“In addition, we have added two Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into our corporate fleet,” he said.

SEDC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain said the buses would be used as a pilot project to demonstrate the capabilities of hydrogen fuel cell technology for public transport in Sarawak.

He said the buses will commence operations as soon as SEDC receives the necessary permits from the relevant authorities.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2019/06/04/hydrogen-as-energy-source/

Kerajaan lulus bina Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kulim, lebuh raya

ALOR SETAR: Kerajaan Pusat meluluskan tujuh projek dan program berimpak tinggi di Kedah bernilai lebih RM3.6 bilion, termasuk pembinaan Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kulim (KXP) yang membabitkan pelaburan luar berjumlah RM1.6 bilion.

Menteri Hal Ehwal Ekonomi, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, berkata semua projek itu diluluskan Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ketika mempengerusikan Mesyuarat Pihak Berkuasa Pelaksanaan Koridor Utara (NCIA) pada Isnin lalu.

“Projek semua pembinaan infrastruktur itu dijangka mampu menjadi pemangkin kepada Kedah mencapai kemajuan setanding negeri maju lain,” katanya pada sidang media selepas majlis perjumpaan khas bersama pegawai dan kakitangan kerajaan negeri dan Persekutuan, di sini hari ini.

Selain KXP, beliau berkata, projek berimpak tinggi lain ialah pembinaan Lebuhraya Koridor Utara Fasa 1A (Bandar Baharu-Sungai Petani) dalam fasa satu serta Fasa 1B (Bandar Baharu-Jambatan Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah) yang bernilai keseluruhan RM1.7 bilion dalam fasa kedua.

Katanya, pembangunan Hab Industri Pembuatan dan Logistik di Sidam dekat Kulim pula membabitkan peruntukan RM300 juta, manakala Program Kasih Ibu Darul Aman atau KIDA (RM30 juta), Perpustakaan Digital Alor Setar (RM15 juta) serta kajian pembinaan Taman Industri Petro-Kimia Gurun (RM2 juta).

“Antara teras Kajian Separuh Penggal Rancangan Malaysia Ke-11 adalah merapatkan jurang antara wilayah, membabitkan Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah dan Perlis agar tidak terpisah dari arus pembangunan negara.

“Untuk mendepani cabaran ekonomi semasa, kerajaan menggubal satu dasar ekonomi baharu berteraskan pertumbuhan, menjamin kesaksamaan dan nilai keadilan yang dikongsi bersama rakyat Malaysia,” katanya.

Mohamed Azmin berkata, kerajaan bersetuju memperkenalkan program KIDA membabitkan peruntukan RM30 juta setahun bagi menyediakan keperluan asas kepada keluarga miskin di Kedah, terutama di Baling, Sik, Yan dan Kota Setar.

“Sejumlah 5,482 keluarga miskin akan menerima kad pintar dengan jumlah kredit antara RM400 hingga RM500 sebulan bagi membolehkan mereka membeli barangan keperluan di pasar raya.

“Selain itu, Kementerian Hal Ehwal Ekonomi meluluskan lebih RM1.13 bilion sebagai Peruntukkan Pembangunan Negeri Kedah merangkumi 201 projek diteruskan dan 51 projek baharu,” katanya.

Mengenai cadangan pembinaan lebuh raya dari Kedah ke Perak tanpa melalui Pulau Pinang, beliau berkata, projek itu akan dilaksanakan di bawah Lebuhraya Koridor Utara Fasa 2 yang menghubungkan Changkat Jering dan Bandar Baharu.

“Kita bukan hanya mahu tumpu pembangunan di satu daerah, tetapi mengimbangi kemajuan ke kawasan yang belum dibangunkan, khususnya pedalaman.

“Pembangunan tempang tidak memberi manfaat kepada rakyat. Kita mahu khazanah Kedah dibawa masuk dan dicurah ke kawasan pedalaman kerana rakyat kampung juga berhak menikmatinya,” katanya.

Source: https://www.bharian.com.my/berita/nasional/2019/03/542948/kerajaan-lulus-bina-lapangan-terbang-antarabangsa-kulim-lebuh-raya

BN Must Be Aggressive To Recapture Miri Parliamentary Seat – Abang Johari

MIRI, Feb 19 (Bernama) — Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) components must go all out to recapture Miri parliamentary seat, once a BN stronghold but lost to the opposition for the first time in 2013, in the coming 14th General Election (GE14).

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said with all four BN component parties Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) now fully recovered after being embroiled in internal conflicts, chances of winning back the Miri parliamentary seat seem to be bright.

“We must win Miri parliamentary seat so that we can develop together for the future generation,” he said at the Chinese New Year Dinner organised by the SUPP Miri and Sibuti parliamentary liaison committee last night.

As such Abang Johari, who is also the state BN chairman, said the Miri community must think rationally during GE14 as it would determine the future of Miri as well as the development of Miri division.

“All four leaders in Sarawak BN component parties were Sarawakian, we will protect the state rights based on the constitution,” he added.

Meanwhile, SUPP Miri and Sibuti Parliamentary liaison committee chairman Datuk Lee Kim Shim said for the GE14, SUPP has formed an election committee with the election machinery ready to move once the campaigning starts.

“Together with our component parties PBB, PRS and PDP we will make sure that we win back the Miri parliamentary seat,” he said.

On another issue, Lee who is state Assistant Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture hoped that the state government would study the possibility of turning Miri river located at Pullman Hotel to Kampung Wireless to be turned into a waterfront that could attract tourists similar to the Kuching Waterfront.

He also appealed to the Chief Minister to consider making Miri City as the headquarters of Sarawak-owned oil and gas company, Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros).

“Miri has been the centre for oil and gas industry for over hundreds of years, it is hoped that Petros will play an active role in developing the oil and gas industry in Sarawak, particularly in Miri, creating more jobs and opportunities,” he added.

— BERNAMA

Source: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v8/newsindex.php?id=1437276

Sarawak BN must fight for Miri, says Abang Johari

SARAWAK’S Barisan Nasional (BN) components must go all out to recapture the Miri parliamentary seat, a former BN stronghold that was lost to the opposition in 2013, in the coming 14th General Election (GE14).

Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said with all four BN component parties – Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) – now fully recovered from their embroilment in internal conflicts, chances of winning back the Miri parliamentary seat seemed bright.

“We must win the Miri parliamentary seat so that we can develop it together for the future generation,” he said at the Chinese New Year Dinner organised by the SUPP Miri and Sibuti parliamentary liaison committee last night.

Abang Johari, who is also the state BN chairman, said the Miri community must think rationally during GE14 as it would determine the future of Miri.

“All four leaders in Sarawak’s BN component parties are Sarawakian. We will protect the state rights based on the constitution,” he said.

SUPP Miri and Sibuti parliamentary liaison committee chairman Lee Kim Shim said SUPP had formed an election committee for GE14, with election machinery ready to move once the campaigning started.

“Together with our component parties PBB, PRS, and PDP, we will make sure that we win back the Miri parliamentary seat,” he said.

On another issue, Lee, who is state assistant minister for tourism, arts and culture, hoped that the state government would study the possibility of turning the Miri River winding from Pullman Hotel to Kampung Wireless to be turned into a waterfront that could attract tourists similar to the Kuching Waterfront.

He also appealed to the chief minister to consider making Miri City the headquarters of Sarawak-owned oil and gas company, Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros).

“Miri has been the centre of the oil and gas industry for over hundreds of years. It is hoped that Petros will play an active role in developing the oil and gas industry in Sarawak, particularly in Miri, creating more jobs and opportunities,” he said. – Bernama, February 19, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/38641

Possible for Kuching to have piped gas in 10 years

HOMES and industries in Sarawak’s capital city, Kuching, could have piped gas within the decade, state oil firm Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) chairman Hamid Bugo said today.

He, however, said it needs “the right and skilled” labour force.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/218632

Who are the pioneering 5?

(From left) Datuk Seri Idris Jala; Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah; Dato Isaac Lugun; Datuk Wee Yiaw Hin

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg announced  on Tuesday morning members of the board of the newly-formed Petroleum Sarawak Sdn Bhd (Petros), Sarawak’s own oil and gas company, which would comprise five Sarawakians who were previously with Petronas and Shell.

Later in the afternoon he met the MA63 research team to London among whom is  a lawyer who has served in various key positions in Petronas, Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah, CEO of Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd.

Taking the cue from Abang Johari’s statement that the five-member Petros board would comprise Sarawakians who have served in the oil and gas industry one time or another, The Borneo Post made an educated guess that with his credentials, Medan would be one of the ‘Pioneering Five’.

Speaking to The Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) in Bintulu in June, Medan said he had a ‘considerably lengthy’ meeting with the chief minister. Asked what he thought of setting up Sarawak’s own oil and gas company he confidently replied: ‘It’s good for Sarawak’.

There was excitement in the air during the conversation with BAT sensing that good things would be happening to Sarawak in the oil and gas sector.

Who is Medan?

He has more than 30 years experience working in the oil and gas industry value chain under his belt – from upstream to midstream, downstream and marketing and trading.

In his own words during the BAT interview: “I was then the managing director and CEO of Malaysia LNG Group of Companies (2007-2010), contributing significantly to national and state economy to the tune of more than four per cent of the Malaysian GDP and 40 per cent of the gross exports from Sarawak.”

Probing deeper, The Borneo Post talked to several industry players about the composition of the board and the names of a few prominent figures who had worked with Shell and Petronas, cropped up as possible candidates.

Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala is a possible board member. He has spent 23 years in Shell, rising up the ranks to hold senior positions, including as vice president of Shell Retail International and Business Development Consultancy based in the United Kingdom.

The other name bandied about was Heng Hock Cheng, who was the managing director of Shell Gas and Power Malaysia. He retired from Shell in October 2006 after working 34 years in the upstream, downstream and gas and power divisions.

He served in various Shell entities in Malaysia, UK, Holland and China, holding, among others, the positions of manufacturing superintendent of Lutong Refinery, engineering manager, technical director of Sarawak Shell Berhad – Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd and chairman of Shell China based in Beijing.

Cagamas non-executive director Datuk Wee Yiaw Hin’s name was also mentioned. He was attached to Shell for over 21 years in Malaysia and overseas, including the United Kingdom and South Africa where his last position was vice president (Malaysia) for Upstream International Asia and managing director of Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production Companies.

Wee joined Petronas as executive vice president and CEO of Upstream Business in May 2010. He was a member of the company’s board of directors (at the group level) and the executive committee, and chaired/sat on the boards of several companies.

Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd group chief corporate officer Dato Isaac Lugun was also speculated to be a Petros board member. Holding a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree from the University of Malaya in 1981, he worked for eight years in various senior positions in Legal Department of Petronas, including senior management role at Asean Bintulu Fertilizer Sdn Bhd, a joint venture of the then five Asean countries.

Another name mentioned was that of State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani who served as the management executive of Petronas from 1980 to 1988 and has been a Petronas director since Nov 1, 2016.

Also mentioned was the name of Petra Energy Bhd executive director and CEO Datuk Anthony @ Firdauz Bujang. He held various positions in Sarawak Shell Berhad such as secretary and adviser to the Major Tenders Board and head of General Contracts and Strategy, Planning and Procurement for Shell Gabon, Republic of Gabon, West Africa.

One other prominent figure whose name cropped was State Legislative Assembly deputy speaker Dato Gerawat Gala. He was formerly general manager for Corporate Services of Sarawak Shell Berhad, Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd and Shell Sabah Selatan Sdn Bhd and was also general counsel for Shell Malaysia group of companies.

He later became a board member and company secretary of Sarawak Shell Berhad, Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd, Shell Sabah Selatan Sdn Bhd and a few other downstream Shell companies.

Gerawat was formerly company secretary for Shell Refining Company Berhad and member of the country’s management team for Shell Malaysia group of companies.

However, since Abang Johari has said none of the board members are politicians, it is unlikely Gerawat would be appointed to the Petros board.

Other outstanding Sarawakians who are still serving in Petronas include Ruslan Abdul Ghani senior general manager, productions and operations manager, Malaysia Petroleum management, Petronas and Janin Girie country chairman at Petronas Carigali Nile Ltd South Sudan.

Observers believe Petros’ priority now should be to appoint a CEO and chairman capable of bringing forward Sarawak’s agenda in the oil and gas industry.

Here is a quote borrowed from the wisdom of a legal mind: ‘The key will be who is the CEO and chairman. A wrong choice could cause Petros to go sideways instead of forward. Of course, the board collectively needs to drive the agenda’.

Source: http://www.cm.sarawak.gov.my/modules/web/pages.php?mod=news&sub=news_view&nid=1588

CM: Sarawak to assume full authority over oil and gas by July

Chief Minister Abang Johari says this is part of devolution of powers from federal government.

KUCHING: Sarawak is to assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in the state by July this year as part of the devolution of powers from the federal government.

This was announced here tonight by Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg when he launched Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros).

He said Sarawak would exploit its natural resources of oil and gas as provided for constitutionally under the State List in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

The devolution of powers was in keeping with the agreement by Prime Minister Najib Razak to return to Sarawak the powers provided for in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) that had been inadvertently eroded over the years, he said.

Abang Johari said the formation of Petros and the exercising of the constitutional rights under item 2(c) of the State List and 8(j) of the Federal List, as provided in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, were the outcomes of the discussions on the devolution of powers between the state and federal governments.

Abang Johari thanked the prime minister for agreeing to give back the powers that had been inadvertently eroded over the years, saying that the launch of Petros tonight was a clear testimony that substantial progress had been achieved in the ongoing discussions on devolution of powers.

Therefore, he said, by July this year, Sarawak would assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in the state.

“All persons and companies involved in the oil and gas industries in Sarawak must henceforth have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals required under either the Oil Mining Ordinance or the Gas Distribution Ordinance.

“In other words, they are required to regularise their operations and activities to comply with all state laws, including those relating to the use and occupation of land,” Abang Johari said.

Colonial government

He gave the assurance that the enforcement of the state laws would not jeopardise the interests or investments of Petronas, the national oil corporation, and other companies already involved in the oil and gas industry in Sarawak, whether upstream or downstream, but, their business and operational activities must be aligned with Sarawak laws and regulations.

In his speech, the chief minister explained that in 1952, the Sarawak colonial government issued an oil mining lease, in the form of a deed, to Sarawak Oilfields Limited with the liberties, right and privileges to explore and mine all “the petroleum lying or within under or throughout the territory comprising the Colony of Sarawak, including lands beneath all territorial waters”.

“In 1954, the Queen in Council passed the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order to extend the boundaries of Sarawak to include the seabed and its subsoil which lies beneath the high seas, contiguous to the territorial waters of Sarawak.

“In 1958, the Council Negeri passed the Oil Mining Ordinance to ‘make better provision in the law relating to oil mining in Sarawak and its continental shelf and therefore before Malaysia Day (Sept 16, 1963), Sarawak already owned all the petroleum resources both onshore and offshore, in the continental shelf, and had complete control over the grant of prospecting, exploration and mining rights within the boundaries of Sarawak which, by virtue of Article 2 of the Federal Constitution, cannot be altered without the approval of Sarawak, to be expressed by a law passed by the state legislature’.

“On Malaysia Day, the state had the constitutional right to issue prospecting licences, mining leases under Item 2(c) of the State List in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution which provides that ‘land, including permits and licences for prospecting for mines; mining leases and certificates’ are under the legislative authority of the state and, therefore, by virtue of Article 80 within the executive authority of the state government of Sarawak.”

Abang Johari said the federal government’s right under Item 8(j) of Federal List in the Ninth Schedule was subject to Item 2(c) of the State List, meaning that the federal government’s authority on oil and oilfields and the development of mineral resources was subject to the state’s right to grant mining rights for oil and natural gas within Sarawak.

“All laws passed by Parliament must not be inconsistent with the Federal Constitution.

“Article 4 declares that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the federation.

“The Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance was never repealed by any emergency laws promulgated when the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency was in force,” he said.

The 1969 Proclamation of Emergency was annulled in 2011, he said, adding that Sarawak was constitutionally entitled to enforce the Oil Mining Ordinance and assert its constitutional authority over the right to mine oil and gas in Sarawak.

He said the government-incorporated Petros would spearhead the state’s participation in the oil and gas sectors that were considered of strategic importance to the overall socio-economic development objectives of Sarawak.

The chief minister said Petros would be granted the right to mine oil and natural gas in the state and it would be an important player in the upstream oil and gas industry.

The licence was handed to Petros chairman Hamid Bugo at the ceremony tonight.

Source: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/03/07/cm-sarawak-to-assume-full-authority-over-oil-and-gas-by-july/

Venezuela launches oil-backed cryptocurrency

VENEZUELA formally launched its new oil-backed cryptocurrency yesterday, in an unconventional bid to haul itself out of a deepening economic crisis.

The leftist Caracas government put 38.4 million units of the world’s first state-backed digital currency, the Petro, on private pre-sale from the early hours.

During the first 20 hours of the pre-sale, which runs through March 19, Venezuela received “intent to buy” offers to the tune of US$735 million (RM2.9 billion), said President Nicolas Maduro.

“The Petro reinforces our independence and economic sovereignty, and will allow us to fight the greed of foreign powers that try to suffocate Venezuelan families to seize our oil,” he said.

A total of 100 million Petros will go on sale, with an initial value set at US$60, based on the price of a barrel of Venezuelan crude in mid-January – but subject to change.

Economist and cryptocurrency expert Jean-Paul Leidenz told AFP that prices during the pre-sale “will be agreed privately” and would then fluctuate according to the market when the initial coin offering of 44 million Petros was made on March 20.

Meanwhile, the government will reserve the remaining 17.6 million Petros.

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, but is facing a crippling economic and political crisis.

Vice-President Tareck El Aissami said the Petro would “generate confidence and security in the national and international market”.

Maduro announced in early December that Venezuela – which is under sanctions from the US, as well as the European Union – was creating the digital currency.

The Venezuelan leader said he expected the Petro to open “new avenues of financing” in the face of Washington’s sanctions, which prohibit US citizens and companies from trading debt issued by the country and its oil company, PDVSA.

But, experts are sceptical about the Petro’s chances of success, pointing out that the country’s deep economic imbalances would only serve to undermine confidence in the new currency.

“Theoretically, with cryptocurrencies, you could bypass the US financial system… but everything depends on generating confidence,” said economist Henkel Garcia.

Meanwhile, consulting firm Eurasia Group estimates that although Venezuela could raise some US$2 billion in the initial offer, it is “unlikely” that the Petro will be established as “a credible means of exchange”, beyond short-term “interest”.

Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis triggered in large part by a fall in crude oil prices and a drop in oil production, which accounts for about 96% of the country’s exports.

It is struggling to restructure its external debt, estimated at around US$150 billion by some experts. – AFP, February 21, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/39016

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