Ministry of Energy eyes holistic development of energy sector

Rokiah Mahmud

The Ministry of Energy (ME) is focussing its strategic objectives this year on developing the Brunei Darussalam energy sector as a whole, especially the upstream and downstream sectors of oil and gas, electric power, renewable energy and green technologies, said Minister of Energy Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein during budget deliberations at the 17th Legislative Council session yesterday.

The energy sector continues to be a vital sector for the country in which it has contributed about 58 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and 90 per cent exports and that the COVID-19 outbreak and unstable global market price of oil and gas affected the country’s economy and promoted a look into the sector’s needs and sustainability, he said.

For the financial year of 2021-2020, the Ministry of Energy has been provisioned BND199,344,610 recurring expenses allocation of BND168,693,660 while for development expenses BND85,961,000 has been allocated for the ministry and Department of Electrical Services (DES), he said.

Recurring expenses of BND168, 693,660 will be use to carry out planning under the Ministry of Energy Strategic Planning of 2020-2025 to conduct 2021-2022 initiatives. In terms of initiatives, the minister said that they will continue to work with other ministries to achieve their vision of ‘sustainable and diverse energy for the country’s development and prosperity’.

He said this was in line with other national strategic plans, including the Brunei Darussalam Economic Blueprint, Digital Economy Masterplan and National Policy on Climate Change.

Minister of Energy Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

The minister explained that the Pulau Muara Besar (PMB) Refinery Plant has begun its production to supply for the domestic market. The project provided about 667 jobs for locals and enabled the country to export at least USD3 billion worth of products from the refinery.

The minister said that they will be emphasising on global efforts towards a clean energy transition. He noted that the Global Hydrogen Supply Chain Demonstration Chain at Sungai Liang Industrial Park is a clean energy milestone made by the country in 2020, where they had proved that long-distance transportation in a stable form was feasible.

He said that the ministry will continue to support the research and development efforts in the use of alternative energy.

The minister also added that the global economy recovery will further increase the demand for natural gas energy resources in several regions including Southeast Asia and Europe.

In the 2021/2022 financial year, the ministry will further strengthen the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet those regional demands.

Other priorities of the ministry will be to develop the downstream energy sector further by ensuring the growth of industries provide value-added to the oil and gas resources for the country.

He said the Brunei Fertilizer Industries (BFI) Plant will start its operation in the third quarter of this year.

He noted that this year is critical for the development of Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Plant in PMB.

The second phase is scheduled to take place next year.

He said the ministry will look to maximise on the percentage of locals in the workforce, involvement of local companies on the project’s development, ensure safety in its operation, reducing further the impact of the industry on climate change.

He said that the ministry is committed to addressing such issues through the whole-of-nation approach, towards the achievement of economic goals. In the upstream sector, the ministry will work closely with key operators including Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bdhd (BSP), Total, Petronas and Shell Exploration and Production Brunei to continue projects halted due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, DES is committed to maintaining the electrification rate of the country which currently is rated 99.9 per cent. To maintain the standards, the ministry will initiate its plan to utilise digital technologies.

The ministry will also focus on raising the standards and maintenance of electrical power infrastructure.

A new power transmission system line electricity project to connect Brunei-Muara and Temburong District, to ensure high quality of electricity services will be implemented.

From the allocated budget for recurring expenses, BND50,000 will be used to carry out a land survey in Kampong Belimbing, Mukim Subok in Kota Batu.

The project will generate 30 Megawatts of solar energy. Construction is expected to start in 2022.

Other alternative energy sources will also be considered including wind and hydrogen energy, he said.

The minister also said that the local employment in the oil and gas sector is at 67 per cent with 18,844 positions filled by the locals.

The whole of Bruneisation in main oil and gas operators recorded 72 per cent or 5,673 comprising of locals which is an increase of 514 locals in the year 2020. While the Bruneianisation rate at managerial level is at 62 per cent or 230 locals including the appointment of the first female managing director at Brunei LNG Sdn Bhd.

The minister said that oil and gas companies including, Brunei Gas Carriers (BGC) and Brunei Shell Marketing (BSM) are leading by example by paving the way for more Bruneians to lead the sector.

The minister said as they continue to develop the upstream sector and downstream oil and gas, electric power, renewable energy and green energy technologies,
domestic values particularly in the aspect of sourcing of local suppliers and local employment will be a focus.

He noted that as one of the oldest and biggest economic sectors in the country, the upstream energy sector has provided employment opportunity, such as BSP, which had recruited 4,000 or 89 per cent jobs for the locals.

This could be furthered with the development of the electric power sector along with renewable energy such as solar power, said the minister.