The people of Brunei Darussalam should be grateful to the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for reshaping of the country’s process industry, notably with the planned commissioning of Hengyi’s Oil Refinery and Aromatics Complex at Pulau Muara Besar and Brunei Fertilizer Industries’ urea plant at Sungai Liang.
With both being at world scale size, they would surely be another dot on the global map of oil and gas industry and become a source of extreme pride to all.
Reports in the Borneo Bulletin indicate that the government is a shareholder in both ventures, with a majority equity share in the urea plant.
It is pleasing to observe that the vast experience gained from being a partner in the big oil and gas industry players in Brunei Darussalam has seemingly allowed the government to actively chart the development of Bruneian recruits into these new organisations.
It may not be so at the current project execution stage, but at least efforts are visible to train Bruneian crafts men and women and place them into their operations, once these plants are permanently put into service.
We should also utilise the experience of Bruneian technical executives who have recently retired from the oil and gas process industry to at least reduce the initial heavy reliance on senior expatriates by both manufacturing plants.
Although only a few in number, nearly all these technically experienced senior Bruneians had served on international assignments during their careers.
Recruiting them for three to four years should still put them within the retirement age brackets of many developed nations.
They can help accelerate the development of newer generations into both plants.
To ignore them simply because Brunei Darussalam has neither seen the technology employed at these new process plants nor their world scale size, is akin to looking at recruiting expatriate pilots to fly newly purchased Airbus planes when there are local experienced Boeing aircraft pilots.
I hope the points I have raised would be food for thought by the government, both as a shareholder as well as a regulator.