Game changer for northern S’wak

Posted on : 11 Jun 2019  Source of News: The Borneo Post

CM: US$5 bln deal with China companies to develop O&G complex will change Lawas landscape, create 20,000 jobs

Liaw (front, right) exchanges the signed MoU documents with Hao, witnessed by Abang Johari (back row, fourth right), Awang Tengah (back row, fifth right) and other guests. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: China’s Beijing BECA Sci-Tech Co Ltd and Sinopec Engineering Incorporation have agreed to invest US$5 billion for the proposed development of an integrated oil and gas (O&G) complex in Lawas.

According to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, the first phase of the project – to be sited on a 400-hectare land in Pulau Sari, Lawas – is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

“They feel that we have all the important criteria to set up the plant, namely the availability of land, water supply and electricity as well as environmental stability – meaning that we are outside the ‘Ring of Fire’,” he told a press conference after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Sarawak government and the two Chinese firms, here yesterday.

The chief minister described the refinery plant as a ‘game changer’ for Sarawak’s northern region and he foresaw the project creating around 20,000 jobs during the construction period.

“The estimated target year of production for the plant is 2022, where their feedstock will come from the Middle East and they will refine it in Lawas and then export to the consumer market.

“The other derivatives that can be produced from this are polyethylene as well as polypropylene, which are basis for the plastic industries.

“So this is the future that we have and I think this investment will definitely spread out the state’s development in the northern, southern and central regions,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari gave his assurance that the Sarawak government would carry on with its business-friendly policies and create a more conducive environment to attract more high-value and high-technology investments to Sarawak.

He expressed his confidence that the increase in public spending within these two years to build the state’s physical and digital infrastructure would further enhance Sarawak’s economic growth to about six per cent.

“Sarawak’s economy needs to grow by at least six per cent annually in order to be able to attain the status of a developed economy by 2030,” he said.

He pointed out that Sarawak had sizeable O&G reserves, which had mainly been exported in raw form and not much value-adding activities to derive more benefits for the state.

As such, he said Sarawak now would want to take active part in the development of its O&G resources, and the Sarawak government had taken some strategic steps to empower itself to undertake such development.

“In tandem with Sarawak’s oil and gas policy, we welcome the active participation of the private sector in the development of the state’s oil and gas sector.

“Therefore, today’s MoU signing is an auspicious step towards expanding our capacity and capability in the oil and gas sector instead of being mere spectator and waiting for ‘hand-outs’.”

Abang Johari later witnessed the signing of the MoU, where Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development permanent secretary Datu Liaw Soon Eng signed on behalf of the Sarawak government, while BECA and Sinopec were represented by their president Hao Liang and vice-president Zhao Xiangdong, respectively.

Among those present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Assistant Minister of Entrepreneur and Small, Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais, Assistant Minister of Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, acting State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion and Deputy State Secretary (Socio-Economic Transformation) Datu Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki.