THE Public Utilities Ministry already has plans to promote gas-related industries in Sarawak following the passing of the Distribution of Gas Bill 2016.
Its minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said the Bill is essential to accelerate the industrial development of the state and he also assured consumers that the tariffs will be low.
“The ministry will take into account the interests of consumers and effect of the tariffs on the cost of the living of the people. The state continues to negotiate (with Petronas) to secure additional supply of gas which are produced in offshore areas within the boundary of Sarawak,” he said at the third reading of the Bill during the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sittting yesterday.
The Bill was eventually passed at the DUN after receiving a majority of ‘yes’ votes from the assemblypersons present yesterday.
Dr Rundi, had earlier in his second reading, said all activities with the distribution of the gas or within the distribution system for supply and delivery of gas and described in clause 7 will be licensed by the state through the director for gas distribution.
“These activities include the import of liquefied natural gas into Sarawak, regasification, treatment, separation and processing of gas transport, supply and retail of gas; the construction, management and maintenance of gas pipelines, terminals, plants and facilities. The distribution of all types of gas will also be covered. These include natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), specialty gases used by out high-tech industries and hospitals,” he said.
He said the primary objective of the Bill is to regulate the distribution of Gas in Sarawak – an important step towards the greater control by the state over the utilisastion of an important resource, namely natural gas, produced, albeit offshore, but in the continental shelf of the state and therefore within the state’s boundaries and from “State land” as defined in the Land Code.
“The passing of the bill will be an exercise of powers which constitutionally belong to the state, to legislate on the Distribution of Gas in Sarawak as a significant step in the ongoing devolution of powers process to “reclaim” powers which, under the Federal Constitution and in accordance with the recommendations of the Inter-Governmental Committee, are vested with the state of Sarawak,” he said.
Dr Rundi pointed out that with the annulment of the Proclamation of Emergency in 2011, by reasons of Article 150(7) of the federal constitution, the Emergency Ordinance No. 10 lapsed and the Petroleum Mining Act, 1969 and Continental Shelf Act, 1966 ceased to have effect in Sarawak.
“Consequently, the state’s Oil Mining Ordinance, which was never repealed when Emergency Ordinance No.10 was proclaimed, and the state’s rights to legislate on Distribution of Gas are no longer affected by the said Acts particularly as the state government does not agree to the extension of the federal Gas Supply Act, 1993 to Sarawak,” he said.
He was referring to the time in 1969, following the proclamation of emergency in the aftermath of the May 13 unrests which saw the federal Continental Shelf Act and the Petroleum Mining Act, 1966 extended to Sarawak vide the Emergency Ordinance No.10 of 1969.
These two Acts affected the State’s rights to regulate the exploration and mining of petroleum and gas in offshore areas, notably, in the continental shelf which is within the boundaries of Sarawak.
Consequently, exploration licences and mining agreements for petroleum in off-shore areas have to be approved under the Petroleum Mining Act, 1966 by the ‘Petroleum Authority’ who is the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
The Bill saw the participation of 28 assemblypersons in the debate, which DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar described as the maximum number.
Source : The Borneo Post Online