Seria’s latest landmark a big hit

Daniel Lim

As you drive along Jalan Tengah just in front of the iconic Pekan Seria, you will find that the previously empty lot underwent a transformation and is a place where visitors can enjoy their afternoons. The most prominent structure is made of large letters spelling out ‘I LOVE SERIA’ and it would not look out of place in a town filled with history and heritage.

Situated across the Seria Energy Lab (formerly known as the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre), many might have also seen creative posts about it on social media, where people pose for a photo op with the oversized letters.

This gigantic letter structure at the newly opened Seria Energy Recreational Park (SERP) is one of the latest landmarks in Seria to capture the public’s interest. SERP is a beautiful sprawling park located across Pusat Insani Seria and is a special gift to the community of Seria from Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) to commemorate its 90th anniversary in 2019.

A GIFT TO THE COMMUNITY

With BSP calling the area home for the past 90 years, Seria has always been synonymous with the oil and gas industry. When Bruneians are asked what they know about Seria, the more common answers are “the oil tanks”, “the nodding donkeys”, “the Billionth Barrel Monument” or “OGDC”.

Since 1929, BSP is engaged in oil production by developing major projects and pursuing activities. SERP is a symbolic way for BSP to express its gratitude in celebrating and recognising Seria and the Belait community, for their cooperation and goodwill over years. Together they contributed to ensure that the company safely delivers for this wonderful nation in which we live and work.

One of the special features of the park is its playground on the east side of the SERP, that resembles an oil platform called ‘Offshore Rig Playground’, which provides a unique experience as it gives a glimpse into the basic structure of an oil platform.

The ‘I LOVE SERIA’ installation at SERP. PHOTOS: BSP
The mural seen from above tells BSP’s 90-year history
Photos show visitors enjoying SERP’s amenities and playground

Boasting features such as slides, monkey bars, a kinetic see-saw, fireman pole, swings, jungle gyms and many more, the playground is popular among children. The bustling atmosphere is filled with giggles and delighted screams that can be heard as children run around chasing each other around, going up and down the slides with big smiles.

On the opposite side, the ‘I Love Seria’ sign is also popular as it attracts crowds – most often the social media savvy visitors, who enthusiastically snap away photos to share with friends and family.

The installation and recreational park are also a great way to boost Seria as one of the main attractions in Brunei Darussalam. Already, visitors have made the park one of the obligatory stops when they visit the Belait District.

The whole structure is perched on a stage that stands proudly and covered with artificial grass that blends seamlessly with the luscious greenery around it. This is made clearer as the size and spacing between the letters enable the structure to be seen clearly even from afar, even at night as the solar powered sign lights up the park.

Another attractive feature of the park that can truly be appreciated from afar or from an aerial view is the central plaza, where on a gigantic mural on the paved circular ground sits the 90th anniversary logo, which commemorates BSP’s 90th anniversary, with the logo weaving a story about BSP’s journey over the years.

Among the highlights of the logo mural is the red thread that represents BSP’s continuous journey and progress from 1929 to today. Another element was the Brunei Songket at each end of the thread to illustrate that BSP is Bruneian from start to end, and how BSP is intrinsically woven into the community where it has operated in the last 90 years.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

With the park being covered with greenery, lush and colourful trees and flowers that help to further highlight the serenity to an already beautiful landscape, the outline of the park which spans one kilometre of paved walkway is where the public can go for a gentle walk or light jogging.

For the more serious runners, the footpaths are also connected to the Billionth Barrel Monument, another popular landmark located nearby via the Seria Energy Lab which totals up the distance to about 3km. The current facilities and play areas have since garnered positive feedback from the local residents and visitors alike.

“I am very excited to have this beautiful park available for me, my family and the wider community to do outdoor activities and to keep active. It has also become a go-to place for me to spend time with my wife and my three kids,” said Pengiran Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Haji Azahari, a teacher from the Panaga Primary School.

As his family lives nearby, he said the park is now a convenient new addition to the neighbourhood, adding that prior to the opening of SERP he frequently travelled down to Kuala Belait to visit the Golden Jubilee Recreational Park, which is quite a distance from his home.

Taking nine months to complete, the park was opened to the public in April this year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In its early days of opening, members of the public took to the park, appreciating the fresh air, especially after being cooped inside their house for weeks. Parents are particularly grateful to have an open and spacious park for the children to run around and play after staying in for a long time.

Similarly, Khairunnisa Ani binti Haji Ibrahim and her two children also shared their excitement during their visit to SERP as it is a new place for the kids to play.

“They ask me to bring them to the park every day and I’m so happy to see them go out, move actively around and breathe some fresh air as they play at the playground. They really enjoy going down the slides!” shared Khairunnisa.

A SAFE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS PARK

To ensure the comfort of visitors to the recreational park, amenities at the Seria Energy Lab such as toilets equipped with showers are available. Bins are available around the park.

It is at night where the recreational park truly shines, as lights are strategically placed around the park to ensure the safety of visitors as they go about their activities, with the lighting systems being powered by solar panels in the day to be used at night, in an effort to keep the carbon footprint at a minimum.

This represents a part of BSP’s decarbonisation and energy transition journey. Other efforts include nearly 200 trees and shrubs planted at the SERP, which was previously an empty plot of land.

This decarbonisation journey that BSP is embarking upon is in the same spirit as to Shell’s ambition around Climate Change, which is to further reduce Net Carbon Footprint and become a Net Zero Emissions Energy Company by 2050, or sooner.

The newly planted greenery also provides a relaxing space right in the middle of Pekan Seria that harmoniously co-exists with the surrounding hustle and bustle of the of oil and gas industry.

The amenities and green scenery truly encourage an active lifestyle for everyone. All of this plays an important role for building not just a happy community, but a healthy one as well.

“We feel proud with the new addition of the Seria Energy Recreational Park in Pekan Seria. We look forward to seeing more people visiting the park,” expressed Acting Penghulu of Mukim Seria Haji Sadin bin Haji Ibrahim.

“I truly hope that the addition of this new landmark will help boost domestic tourism in the Belait District and provide people with more options of places to visit,” he continued.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude towards BSP on behalf of the people of Seria.

“A landmark such as this would benefit us not only as a place to stay healthy but also as a place for people to come together, meet their neighbours and spend time with their family and friends,” Haji Sadin added as he watched his grandson go up a slide one more time.

BSP Corporate Manager Haji Mohd Jaafar bin Haji Bakar said, “Alhamdulillah, the Seria Energy Recreational Park adds to the beauty of Seria town and it is an absolute joy to offer a beautiful space for the public to practise a healthy lifestyle.

“We are grateful that SERP is well received by the community in Belait and beyond. I hope that SERP will attract even more people to Pekan Seria and the surroundings and will remain a hub for family to gather and practise healthy lifestyle for a long time to come.”

He concluded with a reminder for the public to keep the park safe and clean and to be socially responsible and practise social distancing when visiting the park.