Group wants Sarawak to end oil, gas talks with Petronas

THE Sarawak government must end the ongoing talks between state oil company Petroleum Sarawak Bhd and Petronas over a new oil and gas sharing deal.

State rights group Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (Sapa), said the state government must stand up to its rights over oil and gas in the state.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/99118

Political party pledges to dog Sarawak CM on pledge to return rights

A NON-ALIGNED Sarawak political party says it is closely monitoring the actions of Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg following his pledge to get Putrajaya to return all the state’s lost autonomous rights as spelt out in the constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

At the launch of state-owned petroleum company Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) on March 6, Abang Johari had said the state  would “assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak” by July.

That was understood by many in Sarawak to mean that national oil company Petronas has lost its absolute right to mine and develop oil and gas in the state.

Abang Johari had said the state retained its rights to oil and other resources even after Malaysia Day.

The chief minister in later statements had also said the two laws, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 – a law that gives Petronas all prospecting rights to mine and develop oil and gas in the country – and the Territorial Sea Act (TSA) 2012 had violated Sarawak’s rights in the federal constitution and was also legally null and void as it had also never been ratified by the state legislative assembly.

The TSA reduced the state’s sea boundary from the normal 12 miles to a mere 3 miles, an act seen by Sarawakians as a move by the federal government to seize the state’s oil and gas fields offshore.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB), whose political agenda is the advancement and protection of the Dayaks – the state’s largest communal group – said there should not be any further excuses in prolonging the recovery of those lost rights.

“We want him (Abang Johari) to hold on to the promises he had made,” party president Cobbold John said today.

PBDSB is not a member of the Barisan Nasional ruling bloc nor the opposition Pakatan Harapan.

Cobbold said if Abang Johari’s legal arguments are right, then there should not be any “obstacles in the way of Sarawak’s autonomous rights to be returned, as how it was initially stipulated legally in Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)”.

He also suggested Sarawak lawmakers pore through in detail all the amendments that had been made and take the necessary actions if the federal government had violated the state’s rights or what were agreed in the MA63.

“As such, PBDSB shall continue to monitor and voice out where necessary on Sarawakians’ rights, especially when promises for such rights was made by the chief minister openly.

“PBDSB shall hold on to the promises which was made not only by the Sarawak chief minister but the entire Sarawak state cabinet and assemblymen to ensure that Sarawak has its rights returned as promised.” – March 22, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/44389

Sarawak CM dismisses claim Petros will be another 1MDB

SARAWAK Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg has dismissed allegations published online that state oil company, Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), was created as a vehicle to siphon Sarawak oil money away.

“No such thing. That (claim by the) website – aogm.net – is malicious with malicious intentions,” he said when opening Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corporation’s second fabrication yard in Demak and the loadout of Petronas Carigali’s Bokor D substructure in Bako, 40km from Kuching.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/137749

Sarawak regains all rights to its oil and gas

SARAWAK has regained all the rights to prospect, mine and develop oil and gas in the state, said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg today.

He said the state would by July “assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak” 

This means that after July, oil companies, including Petronas, wishing  to operate in the state would have to secure a prospecting licence from the state government.

Prior to this, under the Petroliam Development Act (PDA), the oil companies received approval from the federal government.

Abang Johari said with the state now enforcing its rights and laws, “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”. 

“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”

He however, gave the assurance that enforcement of state laws would “not jeopardise the interests or investments of Petronas 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 our laws and regulations.”

The chief minister said the state cabinet had approved a bill to amend the Oil Mining Ordinance to “update its provisions and to provide better enforcement”. 

The bill would be tabled at the next sitting of the state legislative assembly in July, he said.

Sarawak’s first oil well was commissioned on December 22,1910 in Miri. 

In 1920, the Rajah issued what was known as the Shell Concession Order to designate the area in Miri for the exploration and mining of oil by Sarawak Oilfield Limited – which was owned by Shell.

Exploration for oil offshore Baram area took place in the 1930s by the Dutch and the British.

 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 water.”

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

In 1958, Council Negeri passed the Oil Mining Ordinance to “make better provision in the law relating to oil mining in Sarawak and its Continental Shelf”.

Petros in August last year was granted a prospecting licence to mine oil and natural gas in the state.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari confirmed Saau Kakok was the Petros CEO. 

Saau, a Bidayuh, has spent almost 40 years of his career in the oil and gas industry. 

His last position was Asia vice-president for a US-based independent oil company. – March 6, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/41483

No more business as usual by July, Sarawak CM tells Petronas

SARAWAK Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg has told Petronas it cannot operate as usual from July, adding that the national oil company has not done enough to develop the country’s largest state.

His remarks, carried by satellite TV operator Astro tonight, underscore the state’s move to be independent of Putrajaya ahead of the 14th general election, widely expected to be called next month.

“Petronas must acknowledge the fact that it is our right for them to align with our laws,” the chief minister said in an interview on Astro Awani.

Last night, the chief minister, at the launch of the state-owned Sarawak Petroleum Bhd (Petros), said by July, Sarawak will assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in the state, and that all individuals and companies wishing to do business in the industry, including Petronas, must have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals from the state government.

The legal requirements are from either the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 or Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016.

Prior to this, Petronas, vested with the powers under the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), dictated all aspects of the oil and gas industry in the state.

Petronas negotiated and awarded all the power-sharing contracts and its contractors.

Abang Johari said under the new operating condition, as Sarawak exercises its constitutional rights over the two resources, some Petronas decisions are also no longer for the company to make alone.

He gave the appointment of contractors as an example.

“They can’t appoint their contractors themselves. They must get their contractors and sub-contractors who are registered with us,” he said, referring to the new legal requirement for oil and gas companies to have licences, permits, leases and approvals from the state government.

Abang Johari said Sarawak never had a say in the appointment of contractors before.

“We don’t have a say especially in the question of the participation of our private sector.”

He said while the national petroleum company has posted billion of ringgits in profits, it is not doing enough to channel some of the money to develop the state.

“The understanding (for the PDA) was that, Petronas would use part of its revenue to develop the state. Over the years, you can see what has happened.

“Petronas has got lots of revenue, but our perception is that they concentrated their projects in the peninsula, while the state is struggling to get money to develop basic infrastructure.

“Fair enough, it has to be shared throughout the country, but there must be the equitable allocation of resources to Sarawak.”

He said Sarawakians can also see and think.

“Sarawakians are looking at the Twin Towers, and Sarawakians are also looking at all the bailouts of the federal government… and we can think that part of the money comes from Petronas.”

He said Petronas is not doing enough to help develop the state.

“Yes, they have their plant in Bintulu. That is their investment, and we have a certain equity.

“But what must be done is, there must be equitable jobs to be given to Sarawak companies.”

Despite the warning of change, Petronas said the company “is committed to supporting Sarawak’s aspirations to actively participate in the state’s oil and gas industry, in line with the current framework of the PDA”.

In offering its congratulations to the Sarawak government over the launch of Petros, and welcoming the participation of the state petroleum company in the oil and gas sector, Petronas said it is looking forward “to continue collaborating with the state for mutual benefit”. – March 7, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/41654

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

SUPP’s proposal to make every Sarawakian a Petros shareholder a ‘bad idea’

SARAWAK PKR vice-president See Chee How said Sarawak United People’s Party’s (SUPP) proposal to make all Sarawakians shareholders in state oil company Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) is “a bad idea”.

See, the Batu Lintang assemblyman, dismissed the proposal passed at the party’s annual delegates conference in Kuching yesterday as “just a populist idea to appeal to the urban folk”.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/87307

Abang Jo does not understand the law, says DAP

DAP today told Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg that his statement yesterday claiming the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) and the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) were “null and void” showed his ignorance of the country’s legal system.

“He can repeat such claims another 100 times, but as these two laws have not been repealed or amended to exclude their application to Sarawak, or declared unconstitutional by the Federal Court, Abang Jo’s (Abang Johari) claim remains mere hot air, an act of ‘shiok sendiri’ (self-indulgence),” Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said.

“Under our legal system, any law passed in Malaysia and duly gazetted to come into force is deemed good until it is repealed or the Federal Court declares it unconstitutional and null and void.

“Other than the Federal Court, no one, not even the prime minister, can declare a law passed in Parliament to be null and void,” Chong, who was also the Bandar Kuching MP, said, as a war of words broke out between state Tourism Minister Abdul Karim Hamzah and DAP over the chief minister saying yesterday that the two laws were “not relevant” in Sarawak.

Karim had criticised the opposition party for its scorn of Abang Johari’s effort to reclaim the state’s rights over its oil and gas.

DAP, however, said they were merely calling a spade a spade.

“Despite the self-declared rights of Abang Jo, the cold hard facts remain.”

“Sarawak’s entitlement to oil and gas royalties remains a meagre 5%; the remaining revenues generated from the exploration of oil and gas remain with the federal government and Petronas.

“The ultimate ownership and control of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak remains with Petronas and the prime minister; all Petronas pump stations will remain with Petronas and will not be converted to Petros pump stations.

“These are the facts,” Chong said.

“As such, I call upon Karim and Abang Jo to be truthful to the people of Sarawak and not disguise the continued exploitation of our resources by the BN government with laughable rhetoric like Abang Jo’s pronouncement that the PDA and TSA are ‘null and void’.”

The PDA gives Petronas absolute ownership and the exclusive rights, powers, liberties, and privileges to the exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources, both onshore or offshore, in the state.

The TSA reduces the state’s sea boundaries and territorial jurisdiction from 12 nautical miles offshore to three, an act which Sarawakians have long accused the federal government of using to plunder the state’s offshore oil and gas resources.

The Sarawak chief minister had said the PDA and the TSA were ‘null and void’ because they violated the state’s rights in the federal constitution.

The laws have been endorsed by the state legislative assembly and the Conference of Rulers, as required by law. – March 9, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/42036

Oil royalty issue won’t sway Sarawak voters, says Uggah

BARISAN Nasional is confident that the issue of oil royalty harped by Pakatan Harapan ahead of the 14th general election will not sway voter sentiment in Sarawak, said Douglas Uggah Embas.

The deputy chief minister said the promise to grant 20% royalty to Sarawak was an old one that was recycled by the opposition.

“This is an old issue, full control over the oil and gas industry in Sarawak has been given to the state government, we will get returns of more than 20 per cent (of the royalty),” he said after officiating the rabies mass vaccination programme in Miri today.

Uggah, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president, said voters in Sarawak were wise enough to judge for themselves the state government’s efforts of reclaiming Sarawak’s rights as stipulated in the federal constitution.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg announced that Sarawak would assume full regulatory control over the state’s oil and gas industry by July as part of the devolution of powers from the federal government.

Abang Johari made the announcement when he launched Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) and assured that Sarawak would exploit its natural oil and gas resources as provided for under the federal constitution.

He said 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 that had been inadvertently eroded over the years.

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen, when launching the first phase of the opposition pact’s GE14 manifesto recently, was quoted as saying that the coalition would increase the oil royalty for Sarawak to 20% should they win the election. – Bernama, March 11, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/42392

Restoring territorial integrity, devolving more powers top Pakatan’s Sarawak agenda

RESTORING the territorial integrity of Sarawak and devolving more powers top Pakatan Harapan’s agenda for the state, should it win the 14th general election.

Unveiling “Part 2” of its election manifesto at the pact’s convention in Sibu today, PH said it would prioritise the dismantling of “two fundamental pillars that Barisan Nasional continues to employ to deceive Sarawakians and sustain its grip on the state – the stripping of territorial integrity and the abrogation of powers”.

The opposition coalition said the restoration of territorial integrity and the devolution of powers would “heal the festering wounds of 55 years in Malaysia”.

The manifesto, launched by PH deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and state PH leaders, reiterated that the pact was committed to honouring the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and restoring Sarawak to its original status “within the context of the Malaysia Agreement 1963”.

Sarawak was one of four territories, along with the federated states of Malaya, Singapore and North Borneo (now Sabah), that formed Malaysia, but in 1976, the BN government amended the constitution, reducing the status of Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th states of the federation.

Reading out the “New Deal”, former DAP Piasau assemblyman Alan Ling said a royal commission would be formed “to review various legislation that affect Sarawak’s immutable right to its natural resources, including but not limited to the Continental Shelf Act 1966, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012”.

In its devolution of powers proposal, PH promised to remove the BN government’s control over revenues related to budget allocations for development and funds for the implementation of projects with a fiscal decentralisation.

Under the plan, the opposition pact will devolve the power of taxation, which will see Sarawak retaining 50% of all tax revenues collected in the state.

The state will also receive 20% in oil and gas royalties, or its equivalent, from the federal government – something that Sarawak has long demanded.

On education, a lost autonomy right whose return is being demanded by Sarawak, PH said while it upheld the national education policy, “decision rights in education” would be returned to the state to “improve service delivery for the benefit of the children and youth of Sarawak”.

With this, and based on the needs and demographic of Sarawak folk, parents can choose whether to have their children taught in Bahasa Malaysia, English or Mandarin.

There will also be a localised school syllabus featuring local languages, history, politics and geography.

PH said under the education reform, staffing and administrative policies would be reviewed to enable teachers to focus on teaching and not be burdened by administrative matters.

It also promised to set up faculties in universities for the study and development of all native languages in Sarawak, and indigenous knowledge, history and anthropology.

It vowed to make available state education grants, to be awarded based on merit, for students from low-income families who wish to pursue their tertiary education either locally or overseas.

On healthcare, the pact said it would return decision rights to the state.

“The over-centralised healthcare system has not catered to the different needs and demographic of Sarawakians.

“The centralised procurement system, in the form of the middle man, has also significantly increased the cost of healthcare and medicines.”

To overcome the problem, the manifesto said, open competition in the procurement of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and medical services would be encouraged.

There will also be the upgrading of all general hospitals in Sarawak, to be equipped with cancer and heart centres.

PH also promised to dismantle the BN government’s trade control and licensing system, which it said encouraged monopolies, cronyism and rent-seeking.

The No. 1 target is the removal of controlled import permits on cars, rice, sugar, cement and other commodities, which the pact said “artificially inflated” the prices of goods.

On the management of Sarawak’s natural resources, PH said the state-owned petroleum company set up by the BN government, Petros, would be replaced by an “equivalent of Petronas” and be named “Sarawak Petrogas”.

The company will answer directly to the state legislative assembly, and like Petros, it will be wholly owned by the state government.

PH said Petros was a mere sub-contractor of Petronas, “hopeful to receive some distribution and sub-contract work”. – January 20, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/33504

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