Monday, August 15, 2016

Time to be firm and resolute

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem must be firm and resolute in safeguarding the state’s limited petroleum resources and securing the development of upstream petroleum projects.

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How opined this could be done by using a sovereign wealth fund or state-owned State Financial Secretary Incorporated to set up a company to undertake and participate in upstream petroleum production operations, exploration works, and the development and production of petroleum from fields within the state’s boundaries.

See, who is PKR state vice chairman, noted that while Adenan had repeatedly said the state would no longer be satisfied with being a spectator, there had been no sign of any headway in becoming a participant in oil and gas projects in the state.

“We should not be contented with securing contracts and subcontract works from PSC (production sharing contracts) contractors if we are serious about being a participant and not a spectator,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

“We must show that we are serious and ready to undertake and manage the limited petroleum resources in Sarawak and to ensure that the State will enjoy its full benefits and its sustainability for the future generations of Sarawakians.”

See said Sarawak lagged behind Sabah in the state’s participation in developing upstream petroleum projects. “M3nergy Berhad, a subsidiary of the Sabah Development Bank Berhad, which in turn is owned by the Ministry of Finance of the State of Sabah, has direct participating interests in a consortium that has two PSCs on exploration, development and production of petroleum in Sabah.”

On Adenan’s stand that Sarawakians be given priority of employment by Petronas in its operations in the state, See reiterated his support for Adenan.

“However, we can expect that Petronas will insist on its corporate independence and prerogative to defend its recruitment and employment practices. The federal government will no doubt give its full backing to the national petroleum company, which it fully owns.”

The issue of Petronas’ preference for Peninsular Malaysians over Sarawakians for jobs in the state has been widely highlighted in the media of late.

The issue was raised when Suarah Petroleum Group (SPG) revealed that in a restructuring process, Petronas had abolished 29 permanent positions, which resulted in the retrenchment of 13 experienced staff from Sarawak.

On the meeting between Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani with Petronas today to resolve this issue, See opined that the state should discuss more than Petronas’ recruitment and retrenchment practices affecting Sarawakians.

“It should have involved top federal ministers, and the discussion should be widened to include revisiting the tripartite agreement on the exploration, development and production of petroleum from the fields that are within the territorial boundary of Sarawak, in view of the recent changes in the laws affecting Sarawak’s territorial rights,” he said.

“We may get a little concession from the national corporation on its employment practices, but we are certainly far away from claiming our rights and entitlements and to safeguard the state’s limited petroleum resources.”

See said the state’s Achilles heel was the total void of a state-owned corporation to undertake or participate in the upstream petroleum production operations and works on exploration, development and production of petroleum in the state.

He said that the state would be in a stronger position to demand for the state’s rights and due claims from the federal government and Petronas if the state had such a resourceful state-owned corporation in its cards.

“I certainly hope our chief minister and his state administration will make a decision on it soonest.”

~ Borneo Post

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