BINTULU: Bintulu’s economy, which has flourished largely due to the success of the oil and gas industry, is expected to grow even further with the establishment of other industries, riding on its infrastructure.
Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) general manager Datuk Mohidin Ishak said yesterday that other industries had discovered Bintulu and were setting up home here.
“For the last 30 years, the oil and gas industry made up the greater part of Bintulu’s development, catapulting Bintulu’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to seven percent, surpassing Sarawak’s at five to six percent,” he told Bernama.
Bintulu’s most recent investors included Japan’s Tokuyama Corporation with RM6.5 billion for two polycrystalline silicon plants, Press Metal Berhad with a US$1.6 billion aluminium smelting plant, Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals with US$200 million manganese ore processing plants at the new industrial park at Samalaju, in the Similajau coastal headland.
He said 10 of the 17 new investors had commenced earthwork preparations or actual construction while the new deepwater port at Samalaju would cater to the activities of the aluminium and manganese smelting plants taking shape in the new industrial park.
In the works were also Petronas’ Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline and the construction of a gas terminal located along the road from Kidurong to the Samalaju Industrial Park, he said.
When the next wave of development hits Bintulu, Mohidin said it would find a population already knowledgeable, disciplined, trained and confident to take the jobs head–on.
“The Bintulu workforce has acquired higher standards of discipline, training and skills from their experiences in the oil and gas industry,” he said, adding that the oil and gas workers in Sarawak in the past 30 years had gone through considerable training and exposure to large-scale industries.
He said Bintulu’s workers in the oil and gas could be found all over the world today.
These workers — from the educated information technology (IT) savvy top management executives holding high positions in the oil and gas industry to the medium and lower levels of skilled and unskilled workers — should augured well for other industries setting up shop in Bintulu, he said.
Noting that the oil and gas industry was today the original and biggest contributor to Bintulu’s success, he said, BDA, itself, was formed in 1978 as a result of the discovery of the offshore oil and gas fields.
Bintulu has grown from a fishing village with a population of 14,000 in the 1970’s to a bustling, vibrant, industrial centre with 167,000 residents in 2000, before growing to 214,214 in 2010.
Meanwhile Bintulu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Datuk Sia Hong Ngee said Bintulu’s current working population was perhaps one of the highest income earners in the country.
Because they or their family members resided here, he said, their spending or repatriation of income into Bintulu, would generate other positive economic spin-offs.
“Some customers, who bought houses from me, are oil and gas workers who have found employment in such remote places like Pok Hai in China,the North Sea, the breakaway Russian provinces of Kazakstan or Middle East,” he said, adding that their mobility was proof of the high level of qualifications that Bintulu oil and gas workers had attained.
Sia was confident Bintulu was very likely to reap the benefits of its oil and gas experience, as well as its population’s mobility. — Bernama