KUCHING (June 10): Following an explosion at the Petronas Sabah-Sarawak gas pipeline in Lawas early today, questions are being raised about the pipeline's safety.
Be’kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian said the pipeline may pose a hazard to some 2,000 residents living nearby when it starts channelling gas.
“Is this gas pipeline safe? Some say the gas might be toxic and may cause people to die from it,” said the well known Lun Bawang land rights lawyer who hails from Be’kelalan.
“There are many villagers living along the pipeline, including my own uncle. People are worried over the danger posed by this pipeline” he added.
The morning’s incident happened at around 2am near Bukit Beriku. No injuries or casualties were reported.
But the flames ignited the sky and it could be clearly seen from the sea and Lawas town (40-minute-drive away) and nearby districts of Sabah and Brunei.
“The villagers nearby thought it was the end of the world and ran away,” said Baru.
The Sarawak PKR chairperson said an immediate investigation must be carried out into the incident and the findings made public.
Meanwhile, Petronas confirmed that the incident occurred in the district of Lawas, about 135 km from the Sabah Oil & Gas Terminal in Kimanis, Sabah, which is the starting point of the pipeline.
“The fire has been extinguished. There was no injury reported and the incident has not affected any of the communities along the pipeline, the closest of which are located nine kilometres away from the incident area,” said the national oil company in a statement.
The authorities have been informed and an investigation on the incident is being carried out, Petronas said, adding that it will provide more information on the incident when it is in the position to do so.
The pipeline is meant to channel raw gas from Kimanis in Sabah via a 600km route through Lawas district, across Ulu Baram, into Miri district and onward to Bintulu in northern Sarawak for conversion into gas for export.