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

Malaysia’s debt profile can mitigate currency, interest rate shocks

MALAYSIA’s debt profile, mainly funded by the ringgit, acts as mitigation against currency or interest rate shocks.

Moody’s Investors Service sovereign risk group assistant vice-president Anushka Shah said the debt profile factored in Malaysia’s A3 rating.

“The rating is underpinned by strong growth, large and diverse economic structure and ample natural resources. Malaysia is also one of the fastest-growing A-rated sovereigns,” she said at Moody’s Media Roundtable: Inside Asean – Spotlight on Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, today.

However, Anushka said, there were concerns Malaysia’s government debt to gross domestic product of about 51% was higher than the 41% median of other A-rated sovereigns. 

“Other concerns include the declining growth rate of the working-age population and downside global risks such as trade protectionism,.

Anushka said Malaysia’s large buffer of foreign-exchange reserves could also mitigate external vulnerabilities.

“The government is maintaining its fiscal deficit reduction stance and committed to a reform policy agenda,” she said.

On the impact of 1Malaysia Development Bhd debts on the country’s rating, she said, the current probability of debt crystallisation from 1MDB was low and was not viewed as a risk to Malaysia’s fiscal position.

Meanwhile, on Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) starting oil and gas (O&G) exploration this year, Moody’s vice-president Vikas Halan said it was too early to quantify the impact.

“We do not how this will pan out but we see that Petronas won’t be much impacted. It is too early to say but our base case is no change in legal status of Petronas as the exclusive explorer and owner of the (oil) resources,” he said. 

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg recently said Petros would kickoff its exploration activities in Miri this year after the state assumed full regulatory control over both upstream and downstream O&G activities. 

“For us, it is wait and see (the impact). Moving forward, all exploration will come under this company but nothing that Petronas is producing will go away,” said Vikas, adding that, it would be better to have an open industry. – Bernama, March 21, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/44310

Sabahans wait to see if Najib will keep promises on state rights

THE return of Sabah’s lost rights will be on the minds of many Sabahans as Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had vowed to return them, begins his two-day visit to the state tomorrow.

This could be Najib’s final visit to Sabah as prime minister ahead of the 14th general election which is speculated to be held before June, although the Barisan Nasional government’s mandate expires in August.

Sabah’s opposition leaders, however, believe Najib will keep the state waiting for any news on the return of special rights due to the state under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) .

To them, his promises are merely election ploys and they see no reason for delays.

“Najib has come here so many times and all he had to do was just return our lost rights. What is there that is holding him back? 

“Everything is laid out clearly in the Federal Constitution,” said Lajim Ukin, the president of Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, one of the four parties in the Sabah opposition alliance, United Sabah Alliance.  

The restoration of state rights under MA63 has become a common call for parties on both sides of the political divide in Sabah and the hottest topic is the state’s 40% revenue entitlement.

A fact-finding groups formed by the government called the MySabah group found the federal government had halted payments of the entitlement since 1974.

The 40% entitlement was the reason why Sabah’s leaders had agreed to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, along with Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore, which broke away two years later.

Over time, Sabah’s political leaders said they have seen the state gradually cede its executive powers to the federal government in many areas ranging from oil resources, to education, power generation and other rights.

Sabah Star leader Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said Sabah suffered from a lack of development and had a higher poverty rate as a result of the erosion of state rights.

He said this was due to the lack of federal funds being put back into the state, despite Sabah contributing a sizeable amount to federal coffers from its natural resources.

Parti Warisan Sabah treasurer Terrence Siambun, meanwhile, said Najib should deliver his promise with no strings attached.

“The thing about MA63 is beyond politics. BN has been in power for over 20 years in Sabah but only made little effort to restore our rights.

“But now the prime minister is now going around making this promise just because the election is around the corner. If he is truly sincere, he should just implement our rights and not allow matters like the MA63 to be used as election bait,” he said.

The call for a return of state rights has gained political traction since the last two elections and Najib in his visit to Sabah has repeatedly promised their return.

Political observers expect Najib to announce some progress now that neighbouring state Sarawak has gone ahead to gain control of its upstream and downstream oil and gas industry thought state oil company Petros.

Sabah Umno leader Anifah Aman, who is also the foreign affairs minister, recently piled pressure by declaring he would leave Umno and refuse any federal cabinet post if Najib failed to deliver his promises on MA63. – March 20, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/44097

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

Sarawak CM must resolve oil, territorial disputes through the court, says DAP

WHILE there are valid considerations the Petroleum Development Act and the Territorial Sea Act have contravened the Federal Constitution, there was no legal basis for Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg to declare they are not applicable in Sarawak.

Abang Johari, at the launch of the state-owned Sarawak Petroleum Bhd (Petros) on Wednesday, said Sarawak would assume full regulatory authority over the oil and gas industry in the state by July. 

He also claimed oil companies wishing to do business, including Petronas, must have the necessary approvals from the state government.

The chief minister was echoing statements on Monday the state has reclaimed its oil and gas rights, saying federal laws ensure the resources remain in Putrajaya’s hands.

Sarawak DAP women bureau affairs chief Irene Chang said laws Abang Johari’s claimed had no force such as the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) and Tripartite Agreement, signed by the federal government, Sarawak government and Petronas, have not been repealed or rescinded.

“To declare these two legislations as null and void and therefore have no application in Sarawak, the chief minister has to bring the matter before the courts of law. 

“Until the courts declare as such, the acts are in force and applicable in Sarawak,” Chang said. 

“To say otherwise is to give people false hope and the state government owes it to the people to set the matter right,” said the Bukit Assek assemblyman.

PDA gives Petronas exclusive ownership right to the oil and gas resources in Malaysia, and makes it the main regulatory body for upstream oil and gas activities. 

Under TSA, Sabah and Sarawak could not exert its sovereignty beyond 3-nautical miles from its shores, short of the 12-nautical mile limit on other coastal states. 

Chang urged Abang Johari to lead the state’s legislators to pass a motion to review the two acts and to get a court order to declare them null and void.

She added the state government might even have a legal argument to demand for the return of all the revenues earned from the resources from 1974 until now.

“Petros and Development Bank of Sarawak, although impressive and would create jobs, but whatever oil and gas that may be exploited in our waters, still need to go back to Petronas. 

“We are entitled to only 5% of the royalty,” she said. 

Chang said if the courts declared the two acts null and void and ultra vires to the Federal Constitution, then the Sarawak Barisan Nasional government needs to “apologise to the people of Sarawak.”

“It is time for the state gvernment to come clean and admit they allowed daylight robbery to be committed for the past 44 years. They need to prove their sincerity in claiming back what rightfully belongs to Sarawak. 

“Has the state BN government the political will to stand up to the prime minister and the federal government?

“Have they got the political courage to go up to their masters since they believe the acts are not applicable, Petronas should immediately cease operation in Sarawak waters?”

On March 2, Petronas announced profit of RM23.8 billion in 2016 and RM45.5 billion in 2017. – March 10, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/42196

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

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

Not true that Sarawak has reclaimed oil and gas rights, says opposition

SARAWAK opposition leaders have challenged the chief minister’s statement that the state has reclaimed its oil and gas rights, saying federal laws ensure the resources remain in Putrajaya’s hands.

They said the state cannot regain the rights when laws like the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) and Tripartite Agreement, signed by the federal government, Sarawak government and Petronas, have not been repealed or rescinded.

“How can we assert those rights that are constrained and/or no longer in our hands?” said state PKR vice-chairman See Chee How, in response to Abang Johari Openg’s statement at the launch of state oil company Petroleum Sarawak Bhd in Kuching on Tuesday.

The PDA vests in Petronas the entire ownership of, and exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges to, the exploration and exploitation of the country’s petroleum resources, both onshore and offshore.

The law gives the national petroleum company complete control in carrying out downstream activities and developments relating to petroleum and related products.

See said the PDA “has completely taken away all our rights, power and privileges over the petroleum resources deposited and found within the territorial boundary of Sarawak”.

The TSA limits the state’s sea boundary and territorial jurisdiction to a mere three nautical miles offshore.

Sarawakians have longed accused the federal government of passing the law to plunder the state’s offshore oil and gas resources by limiting the state’s control to the exploration, exploitation and obtaining of all resources found in Sarawak’s territorial sea, which should have been extended up to 300 nautical miles.

The Tripartite Agreement is purportedly “to irrevocably grant in perpetuity, and convey to and vest in Petronas” Sarawak’s ownership, and the exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting and obtaining petroleum onshore or offshore.

See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, said the chief minister “appears to be overly excited and exceedingly optimistic about the indefinite and ambiguous assurance of the prime minister (to return state rights)”, while state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen described Abang Johari’s announcement as “much ado about nothing”.

See said the chief minister has “gone overboard with an announcement that may not materialise”.

“With his eyes trained on the next general election, the assurance by the prime minister was vague, and clearly uttered to placate Sarawakians and Sabahans.

“The insincerity of Putrajaya is evidenced by the fact that, until today, the prime minister has yet to get back to Sarawak on the reference made to his office by our late former chief minister, Adenan Satem, to repeal or amend the TSA in 2016.”

He said there has been no progress on the devolution of powers to Sarawak since Adenan died.

“To assert our sovereign power and rights to the issuance of permits and licences for mines, mining leases and certificates under Item 2(c) of the State List under the Ninth Schedule of the federal constitution, in this case, the prospecting, mining and development of our petroleum resources, the federal government must first agree to repeal the TSA and PDA, or make amendments to their provisions, and the Tripartite Agreement signed between the federal government, Sarawak government and Petronas must be rescinded.

“The chief minister must first obtain the assurance and undertaking of the prime minister to repeal the TSA and PDA, and to rescind the Tripartite Agreement, before he can make the announcement that we are now able to exercise our jurisdiction under our Oil Mining Ordinance, with regard to the licensing of oil and gas exploration, exploitation and development.

“Unless all these laws and legal provisions are repealed or amended, to devolve or vest powers back to Sarawak, we are, in effect, powerless.”

See said the announcement by Abang Johari that Sarawak is now able to exercise administrative and regulatory control over all petroleum-related activities in the state is “superficial at best”.

Chong said Sarawak’s entitlement to oil and gas royalties remains a meagre 5%.

The state Pakatan Harapan chairman and Bandar Kuching MP said unless the provisions of the PDA are amended or repealed, whatever laws or regulations passed by the state assembly or set by the state government “will become redundant and ineffective”.

He said the chief minister’s announcement was just another one of his “hot air” stunts, “trying to fool Sarawakians into believing that there is the devolution of powers, when the main control over, and benefits of, oil and gas remain with the federal government”.

“Barisan Nasional has taken Sarawakians for a ride for the past 55 years, and with this perceived devolution of powers, it intends to continue taking Sarawakians for another ride for another 50 years.”

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru president Cobbold John questioned how the state could reclaim its oil and gas rights if “Petronas is being allowed to operate as usual”.

He accused Abang Johari of manipulating the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and state rights for political benefits.

“These two laws (the PDA and TSA) need to be amended. Only then can the state assert its constitutional power.”

DAP’s pick for the Stampin federal seat in the 14th general election, Kelvin Yii, said Abang Johari’s announcement “seems to be purposefully orchestrated to mislead the public with regard to the control of our oil and gas resources”.

“Unless there is a repeal or amendment of the PDA, the oil still belongs to the federal government under Petronas, and we are entitled to only a 5% oil royalty.”

The chief minister, in an interview with TV station Astro Awani this morning, said the state’s right to its oil and gas is guaranteed under the federal constitution.

He said even though Item 8(j) under the Ninth Schedule of the constitution grants to the federal government the development of mineral resources, mines, mining, minerals and mineral ores, oils and oilfields; purchase, sale, import and export of minerals and mineral ores, and petroleum products; and, regulation of labour and safety in mines and oilfields, there is a condition.

The condition is that, all those rights are subject to Item 2(c) in the State List, where permits and licences for the prospecting of mines, mining leases and certificates are the rights of the state.

When asked about the PDA and TSA, Abang Johari said under Article 4 of the federal constitution, laws that are inconsistent with the constitution are void.

On the TSA, he said: “Our boundary when we formed Malaysia was 12 nautical miles. It is still 12 nautical miles. It cannot be changed under Article 2 of the federal constitution unless it is agreed to by the state legislative assembly and the Conference of Rulers.”

The state legislative assembly has never agreed to the change. – March 7, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/41638

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

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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