Sarawak to implement regulatory rights on oil, gas beginning July 1

BEGINNING July 1, Sarawak will implement regulatory rights on oil and gas activities in the state, said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg.

He said this following the federal court’s dismissal of Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) application for leave to commence proceedings against the Sarawak government’s move to regulate the state’s petroleum activities.

Abang Johari said the state government’s move was in accordance with the law stipulated in the federal constitution.

“This means that some of the powers under the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 will be implemented by Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Bhd),” he said.

Yesterday, Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Maarop dismissed Petronas’ application after deciding that the federal court could not hear the matter, as the declaratory relief sought by the national oil company was not covered under the jurisdiction of the federal court, but the high court.

Abang Johari said only the Sarawak government had the rights to regulate the oil and gas activities from the point of law as stipulated in the federal constitution.

When asked if Petronas needed to apply for a permit or permission from Sarawak to be involved in oil and gas activities in the state hereafter, he replied: “What is happening now is that we have the state law that Petronas must abide to.”

Sarawak would not create a difficult environment with abnormal conditions for the oil and gas industry in the state, and would ensure that it continued to run smoothly, he said.

Abang Johari said Sarawak’s next state legislative assembly sitting would table the bill to amend OMO 1958, as some of the matters in the ordinance were no longer relevant with the current situation. – Bernama, June 23, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/56436

S’wak to implement O&G regulating laws starting July 1

Abang Johari (centre) with some of the people at the Aidilfitri gathering in MUC hall.

 

SIBU: Sarawak will implement regulating laws for oil and gas activities in the state effective July 1, following the recent dismissal of Petrolisam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas)’s leave application to commence proceedings against the Sarawak government.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this step was in accordance with the laws as stipulated in the Federation Board that needed to be adhered to by all parties.

“This means certain part of the power under The Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 will be implemented by Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Bhd),” he told reporters when asked to comment on the Federal Court’s decision during the Aidilfitri gathering organised by DUN N55 Nangka at MUC hall here today.

Responding to a related question, Abang Johari said only Sarawak government has the right to manage (oil and gas activities) in the state from the aspect of laws stipulated in the Federation Board and that need to be complied with.

When asked whether Petronas needs to apply for permit from the Sarawak government to be involved in the oil and gas activities in the state after this, Abang Johari said,”what has happened now we have the state laws, which Petronas needs to comply.”

He said Sarawak would not create difficult conditions or abnormal situations for the oil and gas industry in the state and would ensure activities are carried out as smoothly as before.

Among those present were the Chief Minister’s wife, Datin Patinggi Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Assistant Minister of Technological Research and Education Dr Annuar Rapaee and Temenggong Datuk Wan Hamid Edruce.

Source: http://www.cm.sarawak.gov.my/modules/web/pages.php?mod=news&sub=news_view&nid=2106

Petronas loses bid to challenge Sarawak govt

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has denied leave to Petronas to commence a legal challenge against the Sarawak government over the national oil company’s right to regulate the state’s oil and gas upstream activities.

Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Ahmad Maarop ruled that the declaratory relief sought by Petronas did not come under Article 4 (4) and Article 4 (3) of the Federal Constitution.

Bernama quoted Justice Ahmad as saying that the declaratory relief sought by Petronas was not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Court but came under the jurisdiction of the High Court.

He dismissed yesterday the Petronas application for leave to commence proceedings against the Sarawak government and ordered the national oil company to pay RM50,000 in costs to the state government.

Meanwhile, Petronas withdrew its application for a stay order in respect to the Sarawak government’s commencement to regulate upstream activities in the state under the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) beginning July 1.

Petronas would be required to comply with the OMO and must have the requisite licences or leases by July 1, failing which the upstream activities carried out by Petronas would be illegal and appropriate action would be taken.

The stay application was heard before a Federal Court three-man bench comprising Justice Ahmad and Federal Court judges Justices Azahar Mohamed and Zaharah Ibrahim, after Justice Ahmad dismissed Petronas’ leave application.

The bench struck out the stay ap­­pli­cation following the withdrawal.

Petronas had filed an application on June 6 for leave to commence proceedings under Article 4 (4) of the Federal Constitution to seek a declaration that the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) applied in respect of the regulation of upstream activities in Sarawak.

It sought the court’s declaration that the PDA was duly enacted by Parliament, and it states that Petronas is the exclusive regulatory authority for the upstream industry throughout Malaysia, including in Sarawak.

The company had sought a declaration that the OMO was impliedly repealed by the PDA.

Petronas was represented by lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar while Sarawak state legal counsel Datuk Seri J.C. Fong appeared for the state government.

In a statement later, Petronas said its leave application was declined based solely on technical ground.

“The Federal Court did not in any way determine or endorse the merits of the legal position taken by the Government of Sarawak to regulate upstream petroleum activity under its Oil Mining Ordinance 1958.”

It said the court also noted the concession by the Government of Sarawak that the PDA was validly enacted.

“This reinforces Petronas’ view that only Parliament can legislate on matters relating to upstream petroleum industry including regulatory powers throughout Malaysia, both onshore and offshore by virtue of the PDA.”

It said the court decision did not in any way impair Petronas’ ability to further pursue its legal actions, with the intent to seek clarity on its rights and position under the PDA.

In Kuching, the Chief Minister’s Office welcomed the Federal Court outcome, saying that the decision paved the way for the state government to enforce its state laws from July 1.

It said in a statement that Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) would be delegated with the powers to implement OMO.

Sarawak had announced in March that it would assume full regulatory authority over oil and gas activities in the state by July 1.

This would require all those involved in the oil and gas industry in Sarawak to obtain the necessary licences and permits.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/06/23/petronas-loses-bid-to-challenge-sarawak-govt/

Sarawak win over Petronas not certain yet

SARAWAK was quick to celebrate the Federal Court’s dismissal of Petronas’ legal challenge to obtain ownership rights over all petroleum resources in the country, even as the oil company’s lawyer cautioned that the fight was not over.

Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said the state will now enforce all state laws regulating the oil and gas industry which includes requiring Petronas to obtain approval for its activities in Sarawak.

He said all companies, including Petronas, must by July 1 have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals required under either the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 or the Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016.

Abang Johari, in a statement responding to the Federal Court’s decision, said it had paved the way for the state government to enforce its state laws, such as the OMO.

He also said state oil company Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) will be delegated the appropriate powers to implement the OMO.

However, Petronas’ lead counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said the apex court had only ruled that the case did not come under its jurisdiction and had asked for it to be heard in the High Court instead.

Malik was reported by The Malay Mail saying that the Federal Court’s decision was on a “procedural matter” and that the issue was “still very much alive, not been decided in any way”.

The merits of the case have not been decided, he added.

In addition to seeking ownership of the country’s petroleum resources, Petronas also wants the court to declare the Sarawak OMO as overridden by the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA). The OMO was drafted before Malaysia was formed.

The OMO was used by the Sarawak government to inform Petronas that the state would regulate its upstream oil and gas activities from July 1.

Abang Johari has previously said that the OMO would be amended to update its provisions, with a bill to be tabled at the state legislative assembly next month.

Malik today said the federal court’s did not make any decision on the PDA or the OMO, adding that he would wait for further instructions from Petronas before any filing at the High Court.

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii also expressed caution over any move to celebrate the Federal Court decision today.

In a Facebook post he said Sarawak had to “keep our eyes on the ball and not get ahead of ourselves”, adding that he expected Petronas to take the matter to the High Court.

“While I congratulate the legal team for their efforts and success, there is still an ambiguity in law and technically the status quo still stands.

“PDA 1974 wasn’t repealed, nor was there a ruling to say it does not apply in Sarawak. The legal argument is not about ‘ownership’ but more on regulatory powers of the upstream activities in Sarawak,” Yii said. – June 22, 2018.

Source: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/56201

Sarawak welcomes dismissal of Petronas’ case over state oil rights

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has welcomed the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss Petronas’ application for leave to commence proceedings to determine that the national oil company is the sole regulatory authority of all upstream oil and gas activities in the country, including Sarawak.

The Chief Minister’s Office said the decision paved the way for the Sarawak government to enforce its state laws from July 1 as announced earlier this year.

“Our Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) would like to thank our state legal team and all Sarawakians for their solid support and prayers for Sarawak to exercise its constitutional rights related to oil and gas activities in Sarawak,” the office said in a statement on Friday (June 22).

It added that Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) would be given the appropriate powers to implement the state’s Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958.

Earlier on Friday, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop rejected Petronas’ application of leave to commence proceedings against the state government in Federal Court.

He held that the declarations sought by Petronas did not come within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court and should have been brought before the High Court instead.

Petronas had sought declarations that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) applied to the regulatory control of upstream activities in Sarawak and that it repealed the OMO by implication.

This came in the wake of Sarawak setting up Petros, its own oil and gas company, as the regulator of oil and gas activities in the state based on the OMO.

Abang Johari had announced in March that Sarawak would assume full regulatory authority over oil and gas activities in the state by July 1.

This would require all persons and companies involved in the oil and gas industry in Sarawak to obtain the necessary licences and permits required by the state’s laws.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/06/22/sarawak-welcomes-dismissal-of-petronas-case/

Federal Court turns down Petronas bid to challenge Sarawak

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has dismissed Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) application to commence proceedings to determine that the national oil company is the sole authority of all upstream oil and gas activities in the country, including Sarawak.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop had on Friday morning rejected Petronas’ application of leave to commence proceeding on the matter in the Federal Court. 

Petronas had last month 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. 

This came in the wake of Sarawak setting up its own oil and gas company, Petros, as the regulator of oil and gas activities in the state based on Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO). 

Petronas is seeking a declaration that the OMO was repealed by the PDA and hence Petros is not valid.

Petronas is seeking a declaration that the PDA was duly enacted by Parliament and stated that Petronas is the exclusive regulatory authority for the upstream industry throughout Malaysia, including in Sarawak.
 

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/22/federal-court-turns-down-petronas-bid-to-challenge-sarawak/

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/

Sarawak govt ‘disappointed’ with decision to postpone hearing

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

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

“The state government would not allow Petroliam Nasional Bhd (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.

On June 4, 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.

Meanwhile, the Sabah government is set to intervene in the Petronas suit seeking a declaration that it is the exclusive owner of the country’s petroleum resources.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that he had asked the state AG to monitor the suit against the Sarawak government that would have implications on Sabah.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/06/12/sarawak-govt-disappointed-with-decision-to-postpone-hearing/

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/

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/

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