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.