Major projects will contribute to Brunei's economy, says MEMI
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Categories: Current Affairs
In a Legislative Council (LegCo) dialogue session at the Prime Minister’s Office on 14th November, 2019, the Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein, revealed the country’s plans to commence the operation of several major downstream oil and gas (O&G) projects in 2020 — including the Pulau Muara Besar oil refinery and petrochemical plant, which is expected to fully operate by the end of this year or early next year.
With the capacity to process 175,000 barrels of crude oil per day, the plant has already started producing several fuels on trial and exporting some of them to neighbouring countries; including diesel, Jet a-1, Gasoline and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
The minister further added that another major foreign direct investment (FDI), the Brunei Fertilizer Industries Sdn Bhd (BFI), will also be contributing to the nation’s economy, with its ammonia and urea plant expected to launch in 2021.
“Foreign direct investors,” he stated, “are tasked with opening opportunities to local businesses and playing an active role in capacity development in aspects of knowledge, expertise and technology.”
On the other hand, the initiatives taken by the ministry are also aimed at addressing the unemployment issues in the Sultanate.
A 2018 Labour Force Survey showed that there was a reduction of 8.7 per cent in the rate of unemployment last year, as compared to 9.3 per cent in the previous year, said the minister, who also mentioned that local job search trends have been closely monitored through Job Center Brunei to better understand the issue at hand.
With an estimated 6,500 new job seekers entering the labour market every year, the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) has been systematically developing all sectors, openings and filling job opportunities with locals (including those generated through economic spin-off activities), as well as aligning the local supply of manpower with the needs of employers.
Such developments can be seen among local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in industrial areas, especially with the development of FDIs being an essential factor in the reduction of unemployment rates.
At the same time, MEMI is working closely with agencies to draft policies and initiatives in the effective succession planning for the non-oil and gas sectors, as well as looking at new policies to further boost spin-off activities and the recruitment of locals. This includes the Bruneianisation directive and local business development directives for the non-oil and gas sector.
The ministry also remains focused on the systematic regulation and management of the country's hydrocarbon. This is done through practising of maximizing the value of energy sector, ensuring sustainable development for other industry sectors, creating employment opportunities and spin-offs from economic impact, meeting the needs of industries by supplying human resources, improving the industrial and economical ecosystem, improving security and quality of electrical services and instilling the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) culture.
In addition, as it is necessary for the country to cautiously manage its usage of hydrocarbon resources and other related assets, several initiatives have been undertaken to protect the nation’s revenue sources from the possibility of shock.
“This year, the ministry, as the regulator of the oil and gas sector, stressed on the increase of exploration activities to boost hydrocarbon resources and the production of oil and gas, to reap the benefits of rising oil prices. The planned target exploration activities will exceed this year’s target, if current performance continues.
“The ministry also hopes to support the development of the industrial sector with close collaboration of stakeholders and develop a focus cluster by attracting foreign direct investors and providing facilities, as well as industrial sites, to support their activities. These efforts include infrastructure upgrades and the service of industrial sites, and facilitating the application process.
With the support of other agencies, the ministry is focusing on building local businesses that are competitive, sustainable and export-oriented. This effort will be leveraged with the Fourth Industrial Revolution resulting in advanced digital technology and technology production.
“The efforts to guarantee electrical supply security for the long-term planning of energy mix are being reviewed, as is boosting public awareness on conserving the use of electricity and avoiding wasteful and unsafe habits. The Department of Electrical Services also conducts the upgrading and maintenance of the national electric infrastructure.”
In terms of natural and environmental preservation, several workshops are being conducted to formulate the basis of the country’s climate change policies with the National Climate Change Secretariat.
Lastly, the minister also touched on the country’s health, safety and environment matters, whereby he stated that the Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA) has issued guidelines related to safety in the workplace, especially at high-risk construction sites, to prevent and reduce the risk of accidental occurrences and incidents.
“The country’s development,” he highlighted, “is an issue that needs to be addressed holistically, and we must take in strategic and wider views to move towards fulfilling the needs and further boosting the prosperity of the country’s citizens”.
Organised as a means of sharing and disseminating information on MEMI, as well as its functions, roles and initiatives, the dialogue session marked the second segment of the ministry’s two-day engagement with LegCo members.
Prior to the session, several working visits to industrial sites was conducted on November 13 by the Darussalam Enterprise (DARe).
The dialogue session was attended by seventeen LegCo members, led by Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Putera Maharaja Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Ghani bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Rahim.
Also present at the session were the Deputy Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Matsatejo bin Sokiaw; Permanent Secretary (Energy) at the MEMI Haji Azhar bin Haji Yahya; Permanent Secretary (Manpower) at the MEMI Haji Zolkiflee bin Haji Abdul Karim; Permanent Secretary (Industry) at the MEMI Pengiran Haji Mohd Hasnan bin Pengiran Haji Ali Hassan; Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate and Industry) at the MEMI Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abdul Wahab; Deputy Permanent Secretary (Energy and Power) at the MEMI Pengiran Haji Jamra Weira bin Pengiran Haji Petra; Chief Executive Officer of DARe Javed Ahmad; and officials from MEMI, Department of Electrical Services, Autoriti Elektrik Negara Brunei Darussalam; DARe; and SHENA.