Petronas treating Sarawak’s demand seriously – Morshidi

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani

KUCHING: State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani believes that Petronas is treating Sarawak’s demand seriously.

In fact, said Morshidi who is a Petronas board member, the national oil corporation is responding well to Sarawak’s demand.

“They (Petronas) are responding well to Sarawak’s demand but like what Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said, the process needs a lot of discussions and negotiations and all that. It is not so simple,” he told reporters here yesterday.

He added that the state government had already made a commitment and would follow through on this issue.

Morshidi was asked to comment on Sarawak Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club chairman Abdullah Saidol’s call for Petronas to show a “more convincing level of seriousness when treating Sarawak’s demand”.

Abdullah, who is Semop assemblyman, stressed that the national petroleum corporation should be treating the ongoing negotiations on oil royalty between the state government and Petronas earnestly and with respect.

“There are many remarks, though I’m not sure whether they are true or not, about some senior officials in Petronas who ridicule our issues with Petronas. If Petronas continues to behave or act without a sign of respect for us, why should we be too lenient with them?” said Abdullah on Monday.

The negotiations between the state government and Petronas on higher oil royalty from the current five per cent to 20 per cent and higher participation in the industry are still ongoing.

Besides higher oil royalty, Sarawak, Petronas and the federal government had last year reached a seven-point agreement, ensuring among other things, that a Sarawakian would be appointed to Petronas’ board of directors.

The agreement was reached after Petronas was under heavy criticism by Sarawakians following reports that the national oil company had retrenched 13 Sarawakian workers and that it did not prioritise locals in its hiring.

This resulted in the state government imposing a moratorium on the issuance of work permits to non-Sarawakian Petronas workers.

Then Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said the state would also cancel the work permits of non-Sarawakians if Petronas did not adhere to its demand to increase the number of local workers.

The agreement also assured prioritisation of Sarawakians in Petronas’ employment in the state and increased places for Sarawakians in Universiti Teknologi Petronas.

In addition to that, Petronas would also intensify technical training for Sarawakians and enrol more Sarawakians in their training centres throughout the country.

Peronas together with the federal government would consider the intention of the state government to participate in the production sharing contracts (PSCs) so that the state could benefit from the contracts.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on a recent Reuters report that Petronas was planning to sell its stake in the SK316 upstream gas project within the territorial waters of Sarawak, Morshidi said some assessment was being currently done by the state government.

“I think the chief minister will respond.”

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