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.