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Monday October 31, 2011

Oil and gas industry biggest contributor to Bintulu’s success

BINTULU: This town has chalked up the distinction of having the fastest growth rate in Sarawak due to its oil and gas activities.

The Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), the oil and gas industry was the biggest contributor to this town’s success, with the growth of its gross domestic product (GDP) as proof.

“While the country recorded a GDP growth of four percent from 1995-2000, Sarawak’s average was five-six percent and Bintulu topped the charts at a whopping seven per cent increase,” said BDA general manager Datuk Mohidin Ishak.

“Bintulu’s accomplishments today are the fruits of the oil and gas industry. The discovery of offshore gas reserves started the growth, which led to the construction of the Malaysia Liquefied Natural Gas Sdn Bhd (MLNG) 1, and later MLNG 2 and 3 by Petronas,” he said.

Today, the Petronas facilities make up the world’s second largest LNG complex on a single site after the one in Qatar.

Bintulu-born Mohidin said that the oil and gas municipality was a fishing village with a population of just 14,000 in the early 70s.

“Today, Bintulu is a bustling industrial centre with a population of more than 210,000.

“The population growth rate is four to six per cent compared to the state’s average of 2.5 per cent,” he said.

He said it was the fastest growing centre in the country due to the pull of the growing oil and gas industry.

BDA itself was formed as a result of the discovery of offshore oil and gas fields in 1978.

Its main objective is to manage and develop Bintulu’s natural resources and independently implement new projects. — Bernama

Looking ahead, Mohidin said, Bintulu would continue to reap the benefits of the oil and gas industry, as the initial projects by Petronas had created a draw to the area with multiple international companies signing up to develop large projects at the new industrial park in Samalaju, just 30km north of it.

He said the Japanese Tokuyama Corporation was building two polycrystalline silicon plants worth RM6.5 billion, while Press Metal Berhad was constructing a US$1.6 billion smelting plant.

Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals is building a manganese ore processing plant worth about US$200 million.

“Other than that, a deep-water port that will cater for the aluminium and manganese smelting plants is also being built at Samalaju,” Mohidin said.

He also said the construction of Petronas’ Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline and gas terminal along the Kidurong-Samalaju Industrial Park road would boost Bintulu’s economy even more.

Meanwhile, Bintulu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Datuk Sia Hong Ngee, acknowledged that Bintulu’s success was based on the current and future quality of the oil and gas industry.

“These mammoth projects will produce spin-off opportunities for local industries,” he said.

“Bintulu is going to grow even more, because of this.” ­— Bernama