Minister reminds oil, gas firms to get permits from Petros

Chong (second from right) in a group photo with Abdul Karim (on Chong’s right) and others at the latter’s Hari Raya open house at Penview Convention Centre in Kuching today.

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KUCHING, June 24: Any attempt to extract oil and gas in Sarawak without a licence from Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) effective July 1, 2018, is an offence, cautioned Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He said come next Sunday, Sarawak would enforce the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO).

“As far as Sarawak is concerned, the law is there because we have already established that from July 1, 2018, any company that is doing extraction of oil and gas must register with the state government,” said Abdul Karim when met by reporters at his Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at Penview Convention Centre here today.

He said the application for licence through Petros was what the Sarawak Government had always wanted all these years, but Petronas had always felt that it was the exclusive owner of all oil and gas resources in Malaysia.

Abdul Karim stressed that all oil and gas companies, including Shell or Nippon Oil, operating in Sarawak would have to apply for permits from Petros, just like what they did before — applying to Petronas for permission to mine in Sarawak.

“Any exploration in Sarawak’s waters and territory has to go through Petros, including Petronas. Of course, there will be a dent in their pride. That is the reason why they are not very happy,” opined Abdul Karim.

He said the Sarawak government was now not looking at percentage of royalties but rather the many other ways in which the state could benefit from its own oil and gas resources, especially that Petros would also be participating in the industry.

He was confident the revenue would be more than the 20 per cent promised by Pakatan Harapan.

On Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s view that Sarawak should take the initiative to file a suit in the High Court to determine if OMO or Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) should prevail, Abdul Karim said the OMO gave Sarawak the rights to its oil and gas resources.

To him, it was Petronas that had been pressured as the national oil giant could no longer mine in Sarawak without permits.

“So it should not be Sarawak that brings the case to court as we think the law (OMO) is there. The one who think the law is not applicable is Petronas. They should be the one bringing the matter to court,” argued Abdul Karim.

He said Article 73 (3) of the Federal Constitution clearly states that any law that was enacted before the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) would automatically become Federal Law, and if there were to be a conflict between Federal Law and State Law, the Federal Law prevailed. However, he pointed out said the OMO, which was enacted in 1958, was also a federal law, based on Article 73(3).

“But then, we let the court decide. I am very sure the court will look at this thing in detail,” he said. — DayakDaily