KUCHING: Unconfirmed reports that Petronas will start supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to South Korea and Japan next month has raised safety concerns among the Lawas community.
Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian claimed villagers residing close to the Sabah-Sarawak interstate gas pipeline project were still fearful of a recurrence of the incident last June, where a section between Lawas and Long Sukang exploded.
He added that the locals were very concerned because they had yet to receive a full report on the explosion that was promised following the incident. Furthermore, an open dialogue was supposed to take place in Lawas to discuss safety issues.
In June last year, a fiery blast ripped apart a section of the Sabah-Sarawak interstate gas pipeline located between Lawas and Long Sukang, resulting in a temporary shutdown of the RM4 billion project by the national oil company.
It was reported that the shockwave could be felt strongly by the people in Lawas town, some 40 km away.
The 512 km-long Sabah-Sarawak Gas pipeline project, completed in early 2014, was meant to channel raw gas from Kimanis, Sabah, to Bintulu, where it will be converted into LNG for export.
Speaking to reporters at PKR Stampin branch office here yesterday, Baru said Long Resina is barely three kilometres from the pipeline project. Other villages near the pipeline include Long Ramirang and Tunas Baru.
Including Lawas town, almost 2,000 people are living along or close to the pipeline project.
Baru hoped the national oil giant could confirm whether the rumour is true or not.
“We heard there was a proposal to realign the route to safer ground and that Petronas was alleged to be not willing to do that because it is costly and takes time.
“If Petronas realign the pipes, they would not be in time for the production of the gas, and they would be in breach of the agreement.
“Because of that, Petronas would be under pressure, considering the rumour that they would start to supply gas beginning February.
“The public wants to know firsthand from Petronas whether it is true that the supplying of the gas will commence at the end of this month. If it is not true, then we hope Petronas will issue a statement to refute such rumour to allay the fears of the people.”
Baru also raised concerns that some sections of the pipeline was laid above ground and passing across rivers, as opposed to five metres underground.
He also heard claims the soil where the explosion occurred last year was not firm and still moving. Locals are also worried that the affected pipelines were built and realigned only a few metres away from the original route.