Who are the pioneering 5?

(From left) Datuk Seri Idris Jala; Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah; Dato Isaac Lugun; Datuk Wee Yiaw Hin

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg announced  on Tuesday morning members of the board of the newly-formed Petroleum Sarawak Sdn Bhd (Petros), Sarawak’s own oil and gas company, which would comprise five Sarawakians who were previously with Petronas and Shell.

Later in the afternoon he met the MA63 research team to London among whom is  a lawyer who has served in various key positions in Petronas, Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah, CEO of Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd.

Taking the cue from Abang Johari’s statement that the five-member Petros board would comprise Sarawakians who have served in the oil and gas industry one time or another, The Borneo Post made an educated guess that with his credentials, Medan would be one of the ‘Pioneering Five’.

Speaking to The Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) in Bintulu in June, Medan said he had a ‘considerably lengthy’ meeting with the chief minister. Asked what he thought of setting up Sarawak’s own oil and gas company he confidently replied: ‘It’s good for Sarawak’.

There was excitement in the air during the conversation with BAT sensing that good things would be happening to Sarawak in the oil and gas sector.

Who is Medan?

He has more than 30 years experience working in the oil and gas industry value chain under his belt – from upstream to midstream, downstream and marketing and trading.

In his own words during the BAT interview: “I was then the managing director and CEO of Malaysia LNG Group of Companies (2007-2010), contributing significantly to national and state economy to the tune of more than four per cent of the Malaysian GDP and 40 per cent of the gross exports from Sarawak.”

Probing deeper, The Borneo Post talked to several industry players about the composition of the board and the names of a few prominent figures who had worked with Shell and Petronas, cropped up as possible candidates.

Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala is a possible board member. He has spent 23 years in Shell, rising up the ranks to hold senior positions, including as vice president of Shell Retail International and Business Development Consultancy based in the United Kingdom.

The other name bandied about was Heng Hock Cheng, who was the managing director of Shell Gas and Power Malaysia. He retired from Shell in October 2006 after working 34 years in the upstream, downstream and gas and power divisions.

He served in various Shell entities in Malaysia, UK, Holland and China, holding, among others, the positions of manufacturing superintendent of Lutong Refinery, engineering manager, technical director of Sarawak Shell Berhad – Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd and chairman of Shell China based in Beijing.

Cagamas non-executive director Datuk Wee Yiaw Hin’s name was also mentioned. He was attached to Shell for over 21 years in Malaysia and overseas, including the United Kingdom and South Africa where his last position was vice president (Malaysia) for Upstream International Asia and managing director of Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production Companies.

Wee joined Petronas as executive vice president and CEO of Upstream Business in May 2010. He was a member of the company’s board of directors (at the group level) and the executive committee, and chaired/sat on the boards of several companies.

Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd group chief corporate officer Dato Isaac Lugun was also speculated to be a Petros board member. Holding a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree from the University of Malaya in 1981, he worked for eight years in various senior positions in Legal Department of Petronas, including senior management role at Asean Bintulu Fertilizer Sdn Bhd, a joint venture of the then five Asean countries.

Another name mentioned was that of State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani who served as the management executive of Petronas from 1980 to 1988 and has been a Petronas director since Nov 1, 2016.

Also mentioned was the name of Petra Energy Bhd executive director and CEO Datuk Anthony @ Firdauz Bujang. He held various positions in Sarawak Shell Berhad such as secretary and adviser to the Major Tenders Board and head of General Contracts and Strategy, Planning and Procurement for Shell Gabon, Republic of Gabon, West Africa.

One other prominent figure whose name cropped was State Legislative Assembly deputy speaker Dato Gerawat Gala. He was formerly general manager for Corporate Services of Sarawak Shell Berhad, Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd and Shell Sabah Selatan Sdn Bhd and was also general counsel for Shell Malaysia group of companies.

He later became a board member and company secretary of Sarawak Shell Berhad, Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd, Shell Sabah Selatan Sdn Bhd and a few other downstream Shell companies.

Gerawat was formerly company secretary for Shell Refining Company Berhad and member of the country’s management team for Shell Malaysia group of companies.

However, since Abang Johari has said none of the board members are politicians, it is unlikely Gerawat would be appointed to the Petros board.

Other outstanding Sarawakians who are still serving in Petronas include Ruslan Abdul Ghani senior general manager, productions and operations manager, Malaysia Petroleum management, Petronas and Janin Girie country chairman at Petronas Carigali Nile Ltd South Sudan.

Observers believe Petros’ priority now should be to appoint a CEO and chairman capable of bringing forward Sarawak’s agenda in the oil and gas industry.

Here is a quote borrowed from the wisdom of a legal mind: ‘The key will be who is the CEO and chairman. A wrong choice could cause Petros to go sideways instead of forward. Of course, the board collectively needs to drive the agenda’.

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