The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Authority of Brunei Darussalam will always work closely together to ensure that there are no negative impacts on the environment in any oil and gas project.
The commitment in preserving Brunei’s natural environment against pollution caused by oil and gas project was highlighted by Minister of Energy Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein during the 18th Legislative Council (LegCo)
He said this in response to queries by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Mohamed bin Pengiran Haji Osman @ Othman on the efforts of the Ministry of Energy to ensure there are no negative impacts on Pelumpong island from the refinery and petrochemical plant operations in Pulau Muara Besar.
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny also revealed that a joint HSE monitoring programme (JMP) working group was established in March 2020, chaired by the Petroleum Authority of Brunei Darussalam to collectively monitor health, safety and environmental (HSE) issues related to PMB’s oil refinery and petrochemical plant operations through several available joint monitoring programmes and plans.
Members of the JMP, he said, “include the Ministry of Health, Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe), Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA), Autoriti Elektrik Negara Brunei Darussalam, Department of Fisheries, Fire and Rescue Department, Maritime and Port Authority of Brunei Darussalam (MPABD), Brunei Climate Change Secretariat, National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and DARe (Darussalam Enterprise). The JMP meeting also serve as a platform where involved agencies can share resources and expertise as well as work together to address various challenges that have risen.”
Currently, the minister said, “Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd is in the process of implementing dredging and reclamation works. To ensure that this activity does not pollute the waters near Pulau Muara Besar, especially in the fish farming industrial site area which may likely affect the operations of fish farmers, Hengyi has submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan (EMMP) for coastal infrastructure to the JASTRe.
“Monitoring works based on EIA and EMMP are reviewed by the dredging and reclamation working group and aquaculture taskforce continuously as long as the dredging and reclamation work is still in progress,” he added.
Meanwhile, asked on the steps taken by the Ministry of Energy to protect the impact of the daily operation of the plant and its productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny said, “The Ministry of Energy has taken proactive steps to establish a Crisis Management Team (CMT) since January 2020 comprising stakeholder agencies responsible for, among others, ensuring that any impact from the COVID-19 pandemic can be monitored and not to give a significant impact on the operation works, including Hengyi in Pulau Muara Besar. Alhamdulillah, so far the operation of the plant has not been affected by the pandemic.”
He added, “All operators are required to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) on preventive measures based on guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health should any issues arise.
“The Ministry of Energy also established a taskforce to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, where team members comprising representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Department of Electrical Services (DES), Petroleum Authority of Brunei Darussalam, and Safety, Health, Environment National SHENA to ensure products and services that are critical will not be affected,” he added.
The COVID-19 Taskforce also has come up with a guideline entitled ‘Notice to Industry (NTI) on COVID-19 in jointly addressing and mitigating the impact on oil and gas operation activities in the energy sector, the minister revealed.
“The main focus of NTI is to provide guidelines to essential workers in workplaces categorised as critical assets in ensuring continuity and stability of operations. The taskforce will always monitor the COVID-19 situation in the energy sector to ensure the impact to production in the upstream and downstream industries are kept to a minimum, including operations at oil refineries and petrochemicals in Pulau Muara Besar.
“Hengyi Industries,” the minister said, “is operating in accordance to the business continuity plan (BCP) based on Notices to Industry 1 and 2 to ensure the company can still continue operating safely, while only essential and critical manpower are allowed at its plant site”.
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny revealed that there are currently 107 essential and critical local workers on site at the Hengyi Industries plant on a rotation basis. The employees are required to reside temporarily in residential areas reserved by Hengyi to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.
He also shared that Hengyi has extended a hardship allowance to the local workers involved.
The rotation period is within a month. However, they are allowed to exceed the rotation period voluntarily. Any grievances from local workers will be addressed and negotiated jointly between the Ministry of Energy and relevant stakeholders as usual, he added.