Sarawak needs more experts: Each Bintulu sour gas plant requires at least 600 chemical engineers

Abang Johari speaking at the Sarawak Education Expo launching ceremony at Dewan Jamilah, Yayasan Sarawak here today (June 25, 2022).

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By Ling Hui and Chris Bishop

KUCHING, June 25: The operation of one sour gas treatment plant that will be developed in Bintulu’s Petrochemical Industrial Park is going to need at least 600 chemical engineers.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said with incoming foreign investments, Sarawak is in desperate need of local talents equipped with modern skill sets and knowledge.

“Three days ago, I witnessed the collaboration between a company from Thailand and Petronas to develop sour gas. They said they will need 600 chemical engineers per plant.

“Where to find this 600? That’s only one plant, but we are going to have two. Shell also wants to build one, because we have the resources in our land.

“So, if two plants, then we need at least 1,200 engineers and chemists. Where to find this many talents?” he highlighted when launching the Sarawak Education Expo at Dewan Jamilah, Yayasan Sarawak here today.

Gesturing at the audience comprising about 1,103 students who passed SPM 2021 with flying colours, Abang Johari said: “You are the people who will produce that gas.”

Adding on to the challenge, he pointed out that there are also hydrogen plants in Sarawak’s pipeline that will equally require local specialists.

In the efforts of local talent nurturing, he said the Sarawak government is therefore looking into issuing five-year working visas to professionals to ease their stays in the State for them to train Sarawakians.

“Because we don’t have the expertise, we give working visas of five years one go to professionals, so that Sarawakians can learn from them.

“When their visa expires and they return to their own countries, we already have the skills. Then, our own people will take over the operation. That’s where the transfer of technology and knowledge happens,” added Abang Johari.

Among others also present were Sarawak State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion (virtual through Zoom), Deputy State Secretary (Economic Planning and Development) cum Yayasan Sarawak deputy chairman Dato Sri Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki, Deputy State Secretary (Operation) Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, Sarawak State Education Department director Datu Dr Azhar Ahmad, and Yayasan Sarawak director Mersal Abang Rosli. — Dayakdaily