SIPITANG: The construction of Petronas’ mega ammonia-urea plant here is expected to begin only next year, but local residents are already talking about an exciting new future awaiting them.
Several residents interviewed agreed that the RM4.6-billion Sabah Ammonia and Urea Project (Samur) would spur economic activities in and around this town, whose majority population are still engaged in subsistence farming and fishing.
A resident, Jesus Aropoc was confident the proposed Samur would create various forms of opportunities for the locals.
“With more people coming to Sipitang town, the farmers here will be able to market their agricultural produce.
“It’s exciting to think that the Petronas project will one day transform Sipitang into a vibrant business centre.Of course, we are happy Petronas chose our town for the Samur project,” he said.
Jesus, who works with Sipitang-based Rural Development Corporation, also hoped that the massive project would create jobs for the locals.
Besides the Samur project, the state government planned to develop an oil and gas (O&G) industrial park in Sipitang, the closest town in Sabah to Sarawak border.
Another Sipitang resident, Liaw Sin Kuang said the proposed Samur project would definitely bring a new economic era for this tiny district, which has a population of about 35,000 people.
“Of course, this huge Petronas project will create spin-off opportunities to the locals and it will be a challenge for the local authorities to improve infrastructure facilities in this town to cater for the expected influx of visitors.
“Even now, the town is already quite busy because Sipitang is the entry passage to Sabah for people coming from Sarawak and Brunei,” says Kuang, who is also press secretary to the State Minister for Agriculture and Food Industries.
Kuang said the Samur project was indeed very good and welcomed as it would not only help Sipitang to become an important O&G centre in Sabah but would also create many businesses and jobs for the locals.
“I think it’s important for Sipitang folk to think ahead on how to fully capitalise on the spin-off opportunities from this huge project, including the prospects of harnessing the tourism sector,” he said.
A government officer, Liman Yusof said that by logic, the Samur project would bring economic impact to the people in Sipitang district.
However, infrastructure facilities needed to be developed to support the plant’s operations.
“I hope Petronas will seriously look into the feasibility of the Samur project, including caring for the local residents’ welfare, especially the fishermen community,” he said.
Petronas general manager (Sabah and Labuan regional office) Joseph Podtung said the fertiliser plant in Sipitang would create opportunities for enterprising Sabahans to venture into ammonia-related businesses such as textile, melamine and adhesives.
He said the Samur project, slated for completion in 2014, would produce 1.2 million tonnes per annum of granulated urea.
The plant would provide the impetus to transform Sabah into one of the region’s largest fertiliser producers, he said.
Fertilisers from this facility would be exported to lucrative overseas market, while a sizeable volume would still be made available to serve Sabah’s rapidly-growing agricultural sector. — Bernama