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Monday, December 19, 2016

Develop and return Sabah's Oil Rights or Lose Sabah Forever

KOTA KINABALU - “The Umno-led Federal government may think that Sabah is their fixed deposit but they risk losing Sabah forever unless they start immediately before PRU-14 to develop Sabah and initiate steps to return the oil and gas resources that were unlawfully vested in Petronas by the late Tun Razak in 1975,” said Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, responding to news that the new Malikai oil facility will be starting production offshore Sabah later this December with a production of 193,000 barrels per day (bpd).

With the current world oil price of USD55.33 per barrel and exchange rate of USD1.00 = RM4.50, Petronas and the federal government will be reaping RM45.65 million daily from Malikai’s production. That is a humongous RM16.66 billion annually in addition to the current RM18.715 billion estimated for 2017 from the other oil fields, notably Gumusut-Kakap.

However, Malikai’s production is 43% higher than the 135,000 bpd production of Gumusut-Kakap which started operations in October 2014. It is a huge production if one compares with the Terengganu new Tembikai oil-field that started production in 2015 from 1 oil-well.

Tembikai will only have a peak production from its 3 oil-wells of a meagre 2,000 bpd which means Malikai is bigger than Terengganu by 96.5 times.

Economically, although Sabah is the poorest State with 40% of the poor in Malaysia, it is the 5th biggest contributor to the nation’s GDP in 2015, behind Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak and Johor.

With this latest oil production, it is likely that Sabah will overtake Johor in terms of GDP contribution.

Ironically, despite its wealth and revenue contribution, the Federal government has failed to properly develop Sabah compared to the overall advanced development in Malaya.

Even the 40% net revenue derived from Sabah that was to be returned to Sabah as provided in the Federal Constitution was not returned since 1974.

It is obvious that the revenues and wealth from Sabah was siphoned off to develop Malaya.   Malaya would not be as developed today if not for the oil revenues from Sabah and Sarawak.

Even Petronas would not be what it is today, a global Fortune 500 company, if not for the oil and gas resources that it has unlawfully stolen from Sabah and Sarawak. 

If Malaysia is a true federation with Sabah and Sarawak equal to the Federation of Malaya, Petronas should have been owned by the oil producing States, namely, Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan, and not wholly owned by the Federal government or managed without any transparency and accountability. 

Alternatively, the oil producing States should appoint their own production sharing contracts directly with international oil companies and get their fair share of the revenues, not just 5% as given by Petronas currently. 

Even the province of Acheh in Indonesia gets to retain 70% of its oil wealth.

There would have been no Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, once the tallest building in the world, if not for the oil revenues from Sabah and Sarawak.

In fact, there would have been no Malaysia today, if not for Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federation of Malaya on its own would have difficulty paying salaries of its Malay-dominated civil service.

The Umno-BN federal government have realised that they are hanging on to power due to the support of Sabah and Sarawak.    The support of Sabah and Sarawak is keeping Najib as Prime Minister.

Now that Sabah is producing some 65% of Malaysia’s oil production, the Federal government should realise that the time has now come to put things right.  

They have no alternative but to develop Sabah to its true potential consistent with the revenues that the Federal government is getting.

It is inconceivable and unacceptable that for all its revenues and oil wealth, many Sabahans are still poor and do not even have the basic amenities of clean water and electricity or good roads.

At the same time, Petronas has no legitimate right to continue to own Sabah’s oil and gas resources.  The federal government should return the oil and gas resources to the true owners, the people of Sabah. 

Failing which it would not be surprising given the current unhappiness and discontentment, Sabahans choose to separate Sabah from Malaysia. 

In such an event, Malaya and the Federal government has everything to lose and Sabah everything to gain.

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