Sabah granted observer status in Petronas vs Sarawak case

PETALING JAYA: The Sabah government will be participating as an observer in the legal proceeding between Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and the Sarawak government, which will be held on June 21.

In a letter dated June 11, the Federal Court granted the Sabah Attorney General’s (AG) application to attend the hearing as a “watching brief”.

A watching brief functions as an observer in a proceeding in which one was not directly or immediately concerned. Sabah AG Dayangku Fazidah Hatun Pg Bagul submitted the application to the Federal Court on June 5 to attend the hearing as a watching brief, stating that any decision from the case would have an impact on the state.

Last week, Petronas challenged the Sarawak government by taking legal action in seeking a declaration that the national oil company is the sole governing authority for upstream oil and gas (O&G) activities in Malaysia for both onshore and offshore.

The case by Petronas, which was filed on June 4, said the national oil company was seeking the declaration that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) supersedes the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) , the law the state has used as its basis for setting up its own O&G company Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Bhd) as the sole authority for O&G activities in Sarawak.

On Monday, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he had asked the state AG to monitor the legal case by Petronas against the Sarawak government as it would have an implication on the state.

Petronas filed another document on June 8 to seek a court order to preserve the status quo until the legal case was resolved.

The court hearing to seek leave was postponed to June 21 from June 12.

Following that, the Sarawak government issued a statement to express its “deep disappointment” with the decision by the Federal Court to postpone a hearing over the state’s rights on its O&G resources.

The state government said it would consider all other options to protect and enforce its constitutional rights.

“The state government would not allow Petronas to disrespect and disregard our rights to regulate the upstream activities under our laws such as the OMO and the Land Code,” it said.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/13/sabah-granted-observer-status-in-petronas-vs-sarawak-case/

Abang Johari welcomes another ‘Chinese tsunami’

KUCHING: A “Chinese tsunami” supporting the ruling Barisan Nasional government in Sarawak in GE14 will strengthen the state’s pursuit to reclaim its rights and will demand Putrajaya’s attention.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (pic) said there are big plans to spur development and economic growth in the state, and strong support from all Sarawakians – especially the Chinese community – is needed.

Sarawak Barisan won 25 out of the 31 parliamentary seats in the state in GE13, but Abang Johari is targeting at least 28 constituencies in GE14.

This would involve wresting Chinese-majority seats it lost such as Stampin, Bandar Kuching, Sarikei, Sibu and Lanang and Miri.

“We must have stronger representation in Parliament to fight for Sarawak rights,” Abang Johari said at the Sejiwa Senada programme at Batu Kawah here on Saturday.

The programme in Kuching is the fifth leg of the event after Miri, Saratok, Meradong and Sibuti. Next week, the Sejiwa Senada programme will be held in Lubok Antu. 

Sejiwa Senada is a free programme will give the public the opportunity to get services, information, and advice from government agencies, government-linked companies, NGOs and the private sector.

 
Abang Johari’s administration has lined up an agenda to transform the state economy. The state has embarked on building high-speed Internet facilities across the state as well as the Pan Borneo Highway project.

“Our new development approach is to embrace technology in all sectors, including agriculture.

He said modern farming methods would strengthen the rural economy, and create a diversity of agricultural products aimed at the global market,” he said.

Abang Johari also said that with the setting-up of Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), oil and gas royalties would be safeguarded working alongside Petronas.

He said that the additional revenue could support development of other projects such as a RM11bil LRT system across Kuching-Samaahan-Serian divisions, as well as a water grid project throughout the state.

“I promise to source more funds for Sarawak and we will assert our rights under MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963).

“We have to look into the future if we want to become a developed state by 2030,” Abang Johari said.

Abang Johari also mentioned plans to set up Sarawak’s very own television station in the future.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/05/05/abang-johari-welcomes-another-chinese-tsunami/

Serba Dinamik secures RM330mil Petronas job

KUCHING: Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd has been awarded a contract to provide maintenance, construction and modification services to Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) onshore facilities in Bintulu and Miri, Sarawak.

The contract involves Package D (Bintulu-Sarawak Gas) and Package E (Miri-Sarawak Oil) onshore facilities in Miri Crude Oil Terminal and Asam Paya onshore facility as well as Bintulu integrated facilities.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/03/22/serba-dinamik-secures-rm330mil-petronas-job/

Supply base to be built in Bintulu for O&G industry

KUCHING: Sarawak will have its own multi-million ringgit integrated supply base in Bintulu next year to serve the needs of oil and gas (O&G) industry.

Phase one of the supply base project, which is undertaken by Bintulu Supply Base Sdn Bhd (BSB), is expected to cost RM300mil. It will provide a 370m long wharf able to accommodate four offshore supply vessels at any one time.

The supply base is scheduled to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Bintulu Supply Base signed an agreement to lease land at the Second Inner Harbour, Bintulu Port for the project from Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd (BPHB) yesterday.

The signatories were Bintulu Supply Base chairman Ahmadi Yusoff and BPHB chairman Hadzari Abang. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg witnessed the ceremony.

Bintulu Supply Base is a smart partnership between Yayasan Sarawak and state-owned private companies OBYU Holdings Sdn Bhd and Kris Sakti Petroleum Sdn Bhd. It is a strategic asset and infrastructure for the growth of the Sarawak O&G industry.

“The integrated supply base will provide a one-stop solution for the O&G industry, from exploration to development to production needs, including provision of facilities and services to support drilling operations.

“The integrated asset and facilities hold the key to ensure a cost effective and efficient solution to the O&G players,” according to Bintulu Supply Base.

The company said the development of the supply base would be carried out in phases, taking into consideration the specific requirement of the O&G industry.

“The phased development approach is based on market demand and the fit for purpose of the O&G players.

“The supply base will operate in compliance with the industry health, safety, security and environment standard,” it added.

Bintulu Supply Base said as the project is strategically located in relation to the offshore fields in the Sarawak Basin in close proximity to fields offshore Sarawak, this would enable cost efficiencies to be attained by the O&G players from cost savings due to the shorter travel time from offshore to onshore.

Ahmadi said the set-up of the supply base was in line with Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) initiatives to achieve cost efficiency and operational effectiveness especially for players in Sarawak.

Johari described the integrated supply base project as a significant development of Sarawak’s O&G inclusion strategy.

“It will provide a strong platform for a most effective and efficient logistical service to the upstream activities undertaken by O&G companies on the continental shell, off the coast of Sarawak where valuable petroleum and natural gas resources are located,” he said.

The chief minister said the Sarawak government had decided to issue mining leases to the newly set-up Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), thereby vesting the mining rights unto Petros.

He said Petros would work out fair and equitable arrangement with Petronas and other companies relating to the mining of O&G from the areas covered by the mining leases.

“In regulating the upstream O&G production, Petronas must only deal with Petros to produce and extract oil and gas from beneath land within the state’s boundaries.

“Petros, under direction from the state government, will then enter into mining and production sharing agreements with Petronas and other major industry players,” he added.

Johari said the state government would also regulate gas distribution in Sarawak by July 1, this year with the enforcement of the Gas Distribution Ordinance, 2016.

“In regulating the distribution of gas ,the state expects to secure more gas necessary to expand its electricity generation capacity and accelerate industrial growth in Sarawak.

“The government wants to put an end to the present scenario whereby Sarawak has abundant gas for export to countries like Japan and South Korea but not enough gas for its own domestic use or to propel its industrialisation agenda.”

The chief minister said that under the Gas Distribution (Licence) Regulations 2018, the distribution of gas to any customers (intermediate and end-users) from any gas processing plant in Sarawak (both onshore and offshore) by way of pipeline would require a licence.

He said Petros would be granted a licence by the state to distribute gas from Petronas processing separation plant at Tanjung Kidurong, Bintulu.

By July 1, Sarawak would assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the O&G industry, he said.

The O&G unit of the Chief Minister’s Office will organise an engagement with Petronas and other industry players by the middle of next month to ensure an orderly implementation of the new policies related to the O&G industry.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/04/20/supply-base-to-be-built-in-bintulu-for-og-industry/

Sarawak spells out rules on O&G ops and activities

State to assume full regulatory authority by July

KUCHING: Sarawak will assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream operations and activities of the oil and gas (O&G) industry by July this year.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said all companies or persons involved in the O&G industry must henceforth have the necessary licences, leases and approvals required either under the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 or Sarawak Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016.

“In other words, their operations and activities are required to comply with all state laws, including those related to the use and occupation of land,” he added when launching state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) here on Tuesday night.

However, Abang Johari said the enforcement of state laws would not jeopardise the interests or investments of national oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and other companies already involved in the state’s O&G industry.

Sarawak has got back control over the exploitation of O&G resources, one of the key issues and part of the ongoing broader talks on the devolution of power between the state and federal governments.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak agreed to return to Sarawak power that had been inadventently eroded over the years.

“Sarawak has the constitutional rights to issue prospecting licences and mining leases under Item 2(c) of the State List in the Federal Constitution’s Ninth Schedule.

“The federal government’s rights to develop mineral resources under Item 8(j) of the Federal List in the Ninth Schedule is subject to Item 2(c) of the State List.”

According to Abang Johari, the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 was never repealed by emergency laws when the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency was in force and annulled in 2011.

He said the state cabinet had approved a bill to amend the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 to update the provisions and provide for better enforcement in the next session of the state legislative assembly in July.

The Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016 will come into force on July 1 this year.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari said Petros would spearhead Sarawak’s participation in the strategic O&G industry to boost state development. Petros will be granted the rights to mine O&G in the state.

He also announced the appointment of Saau Kakok, a Bidayuh, with 40 years experience in the O&G industry, as Petros’ chief executive officer.

“Petros is fortunate to gain from Kakok’s experience, talent and vision. I am confident that Kakok is the right person to lead Petros into the future,” Abang Johari said.

It was earlier reported that some 40 candidates were eyeing for the Petros CEO post.

Kakok, 64, joined New York City-based exploration and production company Hess Corp as vice-president of global new business development in 2011.

He has served as a director in Hess Malaysia and Thailand Ltd, Hess Oil & Gas Sdn Bhd and Hess (Indonesia-South Sesulu) Ltd.

Kakok was Shell EP International Ltd’s vice-president from 2007 to 2009.

Petros chairman Tan Sri Hamid Bugo said Kakok would take up his appointment next month.

Bugo said Petros planned to have all essential staff recruited and to commence operations by the end of the year.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/03/08/sarawak-spells-out-rules-on-og-ops-and-activities/

Sarawak govt ‘disappointed’ with decision by Federal Court to postpone hearing on Petronas case

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has expressed its “deep disappointment” with the decision by Federal Court to postpone to June 21 a hearing over the state rights on its oil and gas resources.

In a statement yesterday, the state government said it will consider all other options to protect and enforce its constitutional rights in this matter, 

On June 4, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) filed a suit seeking a declaration from the Federal Court that it is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources in the country, as well as the only regulator of upstream activities nationwide, including in Sarawak.

The case was supposed to be heard on Monday, June 11.

“It is surprising that Petronas who made the application and sought an urgent hearing has no objection to the postponement of hearing of the case,” it said.

The postponement, according to the statement, was granted without according the Sarawak Attorney General legal team the courtesy of being heard on the state government’s objection.   

“The state government would not allow Petronas to disrespect and disregard our rights to regulate the upstream activities under our laws such as the Oil Mining Ordinance and the Land Code,” it said.

Over the past year, Sarawak has embarked on several initiatives that would see Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) come into force from July.

An official letter from Sarawak Attorney General (AG) Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid to Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin on April 13 stated that from July 1, the state government would regulate the downstream and upstream O&G industry in accordance to state laws.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/11/sarawak-govt-disappointed-with-decision/

Sarawak’s Brooke Dockyard wants more Petronas jobs

KUCHING: The Sarawak state government wants Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) to award more offshore fabrication contracts to Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corp as it has tripled its fabrication capacity.

The 107-year-old state-owned corporation has raised its fabrication capacity by 16,500 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes per year with the new Demak Yard in the Demak Industrial Estate near here.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/03/05/brooke-dockyard-wants-more-petronas-jobs/

Petronas warned of July 1 being the cut-off date

EVERYBODY knows that national oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has been losing its clout in Sarawak in the last few years. It came to light in 2016 when Sarawak issued a moratorium on all new applications for work permits for staff outside the state, including Petronas.

It was reported that the state government’s decision was prompted by complaints from Petronas officers from Sarawak whose services were terminated or retrenched because of the downturn in the oil price.

In April last year, Sarawak announced the setting up of Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), a company that would enable Sarawak to actively participate in oil and gas (O&G) extraction activities in the state.

Petronas since then has said that it has had a series of discussions with the state, but there is not much progress.

In the last one year, Sarawak has embarked on several initiatives that would see Petros come into force from July this year.

The grim reminder came in an official letter from Sarawak Attorney General (AG) Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid to Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin on June 13.

The letter stated that starting from July 1, the state government would regulate the downstream and upstream O&G industry in accordance to state laws, including the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO), the Land Code of Sarawak and the Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016.

The letter stated that Petronas has to comply with the state laws for the exploration, prospecting and mining of petroleum including natural gas, and the distribution of gas within the state.

“Any such activities and the use or occupation of state land, both onshore and offshore, carried out without the required licences or leases issued under the state laws after July 1 would be deemed illegal and appropriate action would be taken,” the letter stated.

Petronas was told to liaise “immediately” with the Sarawak state-owned oil exploration company Petros to discuss arrangements on the exploration and prospect of mining petroleum and natural gas in the state.

The letter also stated that the state government would be holding a dialogue session with all persons or companies involved in upstream and downstream O&G activities in Sarawak.

Petronas responded on May 22, more than a month after the issuance of the letter from the Sarawak AG and two weeks into the formation of a new government at the federal level under Pakatan Harapan.

Petronas issued a lengthy letter stating that the company disagreed with the state on its authority over the exploration and mining activities of O&G resources.

“Petronas is not required to apply for any such licences or leases from the state under the OMO … there is no requirement for Petronas to liase with Petros. In all instances, Petronas fully reserves its rights in respect of the foregoing,” the three-page letter ended.

Petronas, in essence, disagreed with Sarawak’s contention that the state was not covered by the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA).

In outlining details, Petronas said that the PDA had vested in it exclusive powers to regulate upstream O&G activities throughout Malaysia and that no other body had such powers.

“The OMO was superceded by the PDA, which by necessary implication repealed the OMO,” the letter said.

It also said that the Sarawak government had entered into an arrangement, in March 1975, vesting in Petronas the ownership of petroleum resources both offshore and onshore in return for agreed cash to the state government.

Petronas also wrote that the OMO was a pre-Malaysia Day law and that under the Malaysia Act 1963, the OMO is to be treated as a federal law since the ordinance pre-dates the formation of Malaysia.

This means that from then on, the Sarawak government could no longer consider itself the authority under the ordinance, Petronas stated.

Since the letter was issued, there were no major developments until June 4, when Petronas filed a case seeking a declaration from the Federal Court that it is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources in the country, as well as the only regulator of upstream activities nationwide, including in Sarawak.

It is worth noting that Sarawak has also issued a handbook on “The Regulatory and Basic Procedures of the Oil & Gas Industry in Sarawak”.

The handbook says that the O&G industry in Sarawak will be experiencing regulatory adjustment in consequence of the state reclaiming its constitutional authority to regulate the mining and production of petrochemicals, as well as the distribution of gas in Sarawak.

It says that the aim of the handbook is to give industry players clear and comprehensive guidance to help them understand and apply all relevant state legislations when operating in Sarawak.

“The state government will exercise its regulatory powers in a manner that would not jeopardise the interest and investment of those who have already been operating in Sarawak,” the handbook states.

The role of Petros is also laid out in the handbook, including to assist the state government to issue exploration, prospecting and mining licences.

It points out that Petros is to be a major revenue contributor to the Sarawak state through active participation as a major player in the exploitation and utilisation of petrochemicals in Sarawak.

There has been growing dissatisfaction in the Sabah and Sarawak governments over the years on oil royalties, despite the fact that the bulk of Petronas’ hydrocarbons are derived from the two states.

Things between Sarawak and Petronas started to heat up last year when Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced the formation of Petros.

Wan Zulkiflee then responded that he welcomed any involvement by state government entities in the O&G business, but it has to be within the PDA.

He said that under the PDA, Petronas is the custodian and manager of the O&G resources in Malaysia.

Related story:

The Petronas-Sarawak oil intrigue

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/09/petronas-warned-of-july-1-being-the-cutoff-date/

CEO: Petronas in ‘active discussion’ with Petros

KUALA LUMPUR: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is currently in “active discussion” with the Sarawak state-owned oil and gas (O&G) company Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), according to Petronas group chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin.

“We are currently discussing with Petros on the working arrangement over the O&G reserves in the state that is acceptable to both,” he told reporters after Petronas’ mid-year 2018 review.

In May, the national oil company filed an application to seek a declaration from the Federal Court on matters pertaining to the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) and its position with regard to the regulatory controls of upstream activities in Sarawak.

However, the case was dismissed by the Federal Court to commence proceedings to determine Petronas as the sole authority of all upstream O&G activities in the country, including Sarawak.

Wan Zulkiflee pointed out that Sarawak was the only oil-producing state that Petronas is currently in discussions with, and that the group is not involved in any discussions related to state oil royalties.

“We leave that discussion to the federal government and the states. We are guided by the federal government, which is our shareholder,” he said.

He added that the grace period guided by the Sarawak state government on the working arrangement was until end of next year.

Wan Zulkiflee stressed that it is very important to ensure the long-term sustainability and implications of any changes in the local O&G industry. “At the end of the day, we need to ensure the competitiveness of the industry and continue to attract investments,” he said.

The situation between Petronas and Sarawak came in the wake of Sarawak setting up its own O&G company, Petros, as the regulator of O&G activities in the state based on the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/08/31/ceo-petronas-in-active-discussion-with-petros/

The Petronas-Sarawak oil intrigue

Change in political landscape paves way for a decision on who has control over oil and gas resources once and for all

SIX DAYS after former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the dissolution of Parliament, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) received a letter from the Attorney General (AG) of Sarawak, which it knew it had to act on.

The letter effectively aimed to relieve Petronas as the undisputed guardian of oil and gas (O&G) resources in Malaysia and its powers to be shared with the state government-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros).

Officials familiar with the matter say the biggest fear for Petronas was that its role as the authority for any O&G exploration works would be compromised not because of inadequate laws, but the weak political strength of the federal government.

“But the change in the political landscape after May 9, where the shift in power moved to Pakatan Harapan, gave fresh hope that Petronas has an even chance to allow the courts to determine who is the guardian of all O&G resources in the country.

“The state based its case around the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO), while Petronas is anchoring its case on the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA). Under Pakatan, the mantra is to follow the rule of law, which is good for all parties,” says the official.

On April 13, the letter from the Sarawak AG stated that Petronas would deal with Petros on all matters pertaining to the extraction of O&G resources effective July 1.

It officially positioned Petros as the sole authority to issue licences and permits on all upstream O&G activities carried out in the state.

Hence, Petronas, its sub-contractors and partners in the production-sharing contract ventures are to work with Petros in the extraction of O&G resources in the state with the most amount of reserves in Malaysia.

“When the letter came, Petronas was expecting the worst because over the past five years, it had lost many battles to the Sarawak state government. This was largely because the federal government was weak and did not provide Petronas with ‘air cover’ when it came to matters dealing with Sarawak,” says an official close to the matter.

To the international O&G world, the letter from Sarawak effectively was a blow to the standing of Petronas as the sole authority of O&G resources in the country.

The national oil company faces the daunting prospects of explaining to oil majors such as Shell, Murphy Oil, Mubadala Oil & Gas, Total and Nippon Oil that they have to go through one more layer – Petros – for any type of work they are going to undertake in O&G ventures in Sarawak.

In the past few years, Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin never hid the fact that the company was getting uncomfortable with the situation in Sarawak. He had the view that the practice in most countries was for a single body to be the sole authority for O&G resources.

In this respect, Petronas has always anchored on the PDA that came into effect in 1974, vesting it as the sole authority for all upstream O&G activities in the country. This involves exploration works and entering into contracts with international partners to mine O&G fields, whether onshore or offshore Malaysia.

In return, the states of Sarawak, Sabah and Terengganu, which have O&G resources, receive royalties amounting to 5% from Petronas.

The absolute amount received by these states depends on the quantum of O&G resources extracted from the state. For instance, between 1978 and March 2000, Terengganu received RM7.13bil in royalties. Global oil prices averaged US$20 per barrel then.

In a legal suit between Terengganu and the federal government, it was disclosed that the latter had offered to pay the state RM1.67bil for the period from March 2000 to 2009, while the state wanted RM2.79bil. The matter was settled out of court.

GE14 a turning point?

Petronas vice-president and group general counsel Maliki Kamal Mohd Yasin wrote back to the Sarawak AG stating that it disagreed with the assertion of the state requiring it to get licences and permission from Petros to embark on any work starting from July 1.

It is learnt that Maliki’s argument was anchored on the PDA that vested all rights to upstream O&G resource activities to Petronas.

Maliki’s letter was sent on May 22, just two weeks after Malaysia saw a turning point in its political landscape.

Sarawak, which was the king maker in the previous administration under the Barisan Nasional with 25 seats in Parliament led by Najib, no longer held that precious position. Sarawak’s Barisan won only 19 seats in the 14th general election (GE14) and is facing a different federal government in the form of Pakatan.

The new federal government does not need to depend on Sabah and Sarawak to control Parliament.

The Pakatan coalition, led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has more than 112 Parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia and does not have to depend on allies from Sabah and Sarawak to form the government.

The political shift is viewed as something that works in favour of Petronas.

Whether by sheer coincidence or design, in the first week of June, Petronas filed a suit seeking a declaration that it is the sole governing authority for upstream O&G activities in Malaysia for onshore and offshore fields.

Petronas also wants the courts to declare that the PDA supercedes the Sarawak OMO, the law that the state has used as its basis for setting up Petros as the sole authority for O&G activities in Sarawak.

It is not hard to fathom why Petronas wants a decision in determining who controls the O&G resources in Sarawak as soon as possible.

Starting from July 1, the function of Petros as the sole issuing authority for all licences and approvals for O&G activities in the state is to kick off. Petronas would be deemed illegal if it operates in Sarawak without getting the approval from Petros.

The suit, which is to be heard on July 12, will consequentially determine if the Sarawak state assembly has any standing to preside on matters regarding the upstream activities of the O&G industry.

However, when it comes to matters pertaining to Petros, the state Pakatan and Barisan parties seem to have a similar stance.

Towards this end, Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-chairman See Chee How has already stated that the state cannot afford to lose the case against Petronas.

However, the federal government has already stated that it would manage the country based on the rule of law. On this score, Dr Mahathir has already said that the Petronas case is something that the company has taken up and that it would abide by the decision of the court.

Landmark case

The case between Petronas and Sarawak will be an interesting landmark because it sets the stage for other states such as Sabah and Terengganu to set up their own version of “Petros”. In fact, Sabah already has a similar set-up but it is not active.

As for Terengganu, the state government will directly get oil royalties from Petronas after 18 years. And ironically, it is coming from the same Prime Minister who had stopped payments to the state after it fell into the hands of PAS in 1999.

After Barisan lost Terengganu to PAS in the November 1999 GE, Dr Mahathir channelled the payments to a federal government-owned entity. The payments stopped in March 2000.

Payments were made through a federal government entity and was known as Wang Ehsan. It continued until 2009 when Barisan regained the state.

The utilisation of funds between 2004 and 2008 was said to be one of the reasons that led to the ouster of Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh as Mentri Besar of Terengganu. He was replaced with Datuk Seri Ahmad Said after the 2008 GE.

During Ahmad Said’s tenure, one of the proposals for the utilisation of the funds in a supposedly transparent manner led to the birth of 1Malaysia Development Bhd or 1MDB – the fund that is subject to a massive investigation at domestic and international levels.

Since 1974, when the PDA came into effect, Petronas has been managing the resources. It has a monopoly and is the sole authority to go to for any investor wanting to get a piece of the action. Unlike some other state-owned petroleum companies such as Pertamina of Indonesia, Petronas has been handling the contracts well.

However, after 44 years, the states, especially Sarawak and Terengganu, have established many companies and employed people with vast experience in managing O&G resources. It is only natural that they would want a bigger role to play.

However, under the Pakatan government, Sabah and Sarawak are to get 20% of the royalties instead of 5%. That itself is a lot of money to handle – running into billions. As we have seen in Terengganu, the handling of the royalty money from Petronas itself is a full-time job.

Although the current case only involves Petronas and Sarawak, the implications are wide-ranging.

The courts will decide once and for all who controls the O&G resources. This decision will come in an environment where nobody has any room to cast doubts if there were hidden hands behind any court judgements.

A decision either way will have a major impact on the O&G industry in the country.

 

 

 

Related story:

Petronas warned of July 1 being the cut-off date

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/09/the-petronassarawak-oil-intrigue/

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