MIRI: Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) will kick off exploration activities in Miri this year as the state will assume full regulatory authority over its oil and gas resources by July.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this at the business luncheon dialogue organised by Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Miri Region at Eastwood Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
He said the state will be able to exploit its oil and gas resources under the State List as per Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, challenging those who dismiss his assertion of the state’s rights as blowing ‘hot air and talking nonsense’.
“This augurs well for the business community when the activities start,” he said.
The chief minister, however, did not say when exactly such prospecting operations would kick off.
All persons and companies involved in the oil and gas industry must have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals required under either the state’s Oil Mining Ordinance or the Gas Distribution Ordinance.
Petros will spearhead the state’s participation in the oil and gas sector which is strategically important to the overall socio-economic development objectives of Sarawak, and it has been granted rights to mine oil and natural gas in the state and be an important player in the upstream oil and gas industry.
Abang Johari said the state has been fighting for oil and gas royalty to be raised to 20 per cent as spearheaded by his predecessor, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, but added it is not easy unless there is consent from the federal government as the Federal Constitution has put a cap of 10 per cent.
He was fielding questions from the floor on what the future holds for Miri, with Petros coming into the picture which was formerly dominated by Shell and Petronas.
Earlier in his address, he advised the community to be open to the bigger picture and look beyond the oil and gas industry as the engine of growth and business in this city.
The community, according to organising chairman Andy Chia, who is a former Pujut state assemblyman and SCCI Miri Region committee chairman, looks forward to Petros setting up base in Miri which is home to the oil and gas industry for over a century.
Giving an overview of his plans for the state, the chief minister said the private sector should be proactive and move out of their comfort zone into exciting new spheres of business with the onset of Industrial Revolution 4.0.
He said the history of Miri as the birthplace of the oil and gas industry in the state must be tampered with new economic realities of the onset of renewable energy gaining momentum, the need for more food, new tourism promotion with virtual reality, and other sectors which provide more opportunities and income.
He said there is a need to connect to the global economy, where QR Code, Fintech and other technologies are making the conventional way of doing business out of place and redundant, and Sarawak is in a hurry to catch up with digital economy and Industrial Revolution 4.0.
He proposed that tycoons or corporate figures pool their resources to lease planes for chartered flights to establish international linkages to Miri while tourism products are tailored to draw more tourists to the city.
On agriculture, Abang Johari said the state government had approved the purchase of a RM10million transport aircraft to boost exports of agriculture products from the state, particularly to the Singapore market which is the nearest.
The single engine Beech aircraft can carry up to three tonnes of goods and the state government has given the green light for the construction of an airstrip in Sadok (Agropolitan Area) in Betong and expansion runway at Bario Airport to cater to this demand.