KOTA KINABALU July 16, 2012: The state government has expressed hope of attracting foreign investors to invest in the oil and gas industry in Sabah.
Industrial Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah said during a biennial dinner of the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) Sabah branch on Saturday evening that Petronas would not be the only investor in the sector in Sabah, adding that with more investors, more job opportunities for the people would be created.
He also said that the state would need to establish additional infrastructure to support the incoming investments.
Tan also urged ACEM to be proactive in helping the state to plan transportation links, utilities and other developments and proposed a collaboration between his ministry and the association to organise a supply chain conference with Petronas to tap into the business of supplying goods and services for the oil and gas industry.
He added that opportunities are abundant for engineers in the oil and gas sector.
Meanwhile, the association’s incoming chairman, Fung Yin Khun, proposed for the government to establish various strategies to incubate the oil and gas industry, maintaining that such strategies should include the setting aside of future oil and gas projects and giving special concession and consideration for projects to local ACEM members for local content and transfer of technology.
“The local engineers will own these projects, associate themselves with experienced players and through them, gain and develop the necessary technical experience and skills for future projects. We see this as the positive way forward for us to be included as players, and no longer to be excluded or treated as spectators,” he said.
Fung also appealed to Petronas to give special consideration to develop local engineering firms for the development of the oil and gas hub in Sabah.
“We view this as their corporate social responsibility. Their first special consideration is to intentionally register more local Sabah-based engineering firms in the oil and gas sector, of which there is none presently,” he said.
Other special considerations would mean intentional planning and allocating certain oil and gas projects to Sabahan firms, he said.
“This is necessary during this infant stage of development. Having them to compete in the open field would be futile as they are bound to lose, due to their inexperience and lack of expertise. Such intentional development will also augur well with the government’s transformation programme to turn Sabah into a major oil and gas hub.”
The state government was also called to establish an oil and gas academy for the training of skilled and semi-skilled labour to complement the industry.
“This will go a long way to develop the necessary skills in the oil and gas sector ensuring its continued success to benefit the current and future generations,” Fung said.
ACEM president Wong Loo Min said that the capabilities and capacity of local engineers have to be developed if they are to get a share in the oil and gas market through the setting up of strategic partnerships and joint ventures in mega oil and gas projects in the state.
There is also a need for consolidation within the industry to match the scale and efficiency of international players as the liberalisation of the engineering service sector will bring about intense competition in terms of fees, expertise and service.
Wong also mentioned that the oil and gas sector was a fairly new market for the engineering consultancy industry in Sabah and that local experience and capability are still lacking.
The capability gap may limit the local consultant’s ability to garner a bigger share of the oil and gas market, he said.
He also said that ACEM hasd identified the oil and gas sector as “Sabah’s Next Engineering Frontier” in anticipation of the numerous opportunities and vast business prospects for the engineering industry.
The development of the oil and gas sector will create new jobs for qualified professionals such as engineers and the engineering consultancy market is also expected to grow from the momentum of midstream and downstream activities, he said.
“This is indeed an opportune time for ACEM to position its members and their companies for growth and advancement,” he said.