Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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More power to country’s energy sector

James Kon

Despite the impact of COVID-19, the Ministry of Energy continues to strengthen the country’s upstream and downstream energy sectors as well as implement major measures to manage oil and gas production and accelerate renewable energy implementation.

The achievements and initiatives within the energy sectors were shared by Minister of Energy Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein at the dialogue session between the Ministry of Energy and Legislative Council (LegCo) members at the Prime Minister’s Office Complex yesterday.

Ten LegCo members led by Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Awang Haji Ash’ari attended the session.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny touched on the importance of regional cooperation with the Sultanate chairing the 39th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM).

He said the AMEM meeting shed light on the directions and targets on key energy matters crucial to the ASEAN energy cooperation and security such as the adoption of the Bandar Seri Begawan Joint Declaration of the ASEAN Energy Ministers on Energy Security and Energy Transition, symbolising the Sultanate’s commitment towards enhancing the viability of the regional energy sector.

“Regional commitment is vital, given the volatile global oil market in the past several years.

Minister of Energy Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein and attendees at the dialogue session. PHOTO: JAMES KON

Alhamdulillah, starting early 2022, global oil prices rose to a level of over USD90 per barrel. Insya Allah with the rise in oil price, the oil and gas sector will continue to play a significant role in the recovery of the country’s economy in the post COVID-19 era. At the same time, although the country struggled with the challenges posed by the pandemic, Alhamdulillah, the Ministry of Energy recorded several achievements throughout the year 2021 in supporting the goals of Brunei Vision 2035.”

ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION

“One of the ministry’s main achievements is to further diversify the energy sector, which includes the oil and gas industry, towards supporting efforts to improve the country’s economic sustainability,” he said.

The development of the downstream energy industry “has been the ministry’s main focus in increasing the diversity of the country’s export products. In 2021, the sector has generated products amounting to 14.35 million tonnes while for 2022, the projected production from oil and gas downstream sector is at 14.6 million tonnes. To achieve the target, the ministry will focus on production from big scale projects including Brunei fertiliser industries (BFI), the Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Plant in Pulau Muara Besar (PMB) and liquefied natural gas (LNG)”, he added.

On the completion of the BFI Plant at the Sungai Liang Industrial Park (SPARK), he said earlier this year, the BFI produced the first urea fertiliser product commercially. The products have also begun to be exported to overseas markets. At the same time, the PMB produced eight million tonnes of petrochemical products in 2021.

The developments, he highlighted, increased the added value of the oil and gas industry as well as the country’s economic development. It is hoped that it will continue to contribute to the efforts of positioning Brunei as a leading energy downstream industry for markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny said, “The ministry understands that the global energy market, especially such as LNG, experienced vast changes. Therefore, the ministry has kept up with the global market’s changing trends to ensure that the country can compete with international suppliers by optimising LNG production and deepen the buying and selling approach with the latest global market trends and develop the buying and selling approach in line with current global market trends.”

He also highlighted that the upstream energy sector continues to maintain its relevance in the country’s economic activities.

In supporting downstream energy production, he said, “The ministry has strengthened upstream energy activities to ensure adequate supply of crude oil and natural gas.

Alhamdulillah, 42 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) of new oil and gas were discovered in 2021. InsyaAllah, the Ministry of Energy through the Petroleum Authority of Brunei Darussalam (PA) will continue to ensure that the largest oil and gas operators in the country will continue their exploration activities to ensure sufficient volume for the country’s future.”

At the same time, “efforts to attract interest of new operators to operate in the Sultanate are also being prioritised as the country will venture into unexplored upstream areas, which will bring more complex technical and economic challenges”, he added.

Apart from exploring new areas, he said, “Existing and long-established platforms and infrastructure will be enhanced through rejuvenation projects to avoid unscheduled shutdowns. In 2021, several rejuvenation projects were implemented and are expected to contribute to the increase in upstream production.”

OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION

According to minister, the Ministry of Energy and PA have taken proactive steps in providing a guideline or notice to industry (NTI) called COVID-19 Measures for the Energy Sector.

“The NTI focusses on essential workers in critical workplaces and operations in the energy sector (oil and gas and electric power). Insya Allah, the effort will ensure that production from the energy sector is resilient in the face of the new norms of the Endemic Phase of COVID-19,” he said.

The downstream energy industry, he said, “is also important in ensuring energy supply for the use of the country’s population. The production of petrochemical products at PMB contributed in reducing the country’s dependency on the importation of fuel such as RON 97, RON 92, RON 85 motor oil and diesel. As part of efforts to ease the distribution of transportation fuel for boats, the Kampong Buang Sakar Riverine Station was completed and opened on November 2, 2021. The station is constructed with a modern concept design known as Portable Container Fuel Station and serves some 2,000 customers each month.”

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY

The Ministry of Energy through the Department of Electrical Services (DES) has implemented the National Grid connection along the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge to Temburong District. This is an effort towards ensuring a stable and efficient electricity supply nationwide. The achievement coincides with the 100th anniversary celebration of the establishment of DES last year.”

In this modern era, he said the DES is implementing a digitisation service project with the use of SCADA technology expected to reduce the occurrence of power outages.

The technology will enable the department to identify areas affected by disruption of electricity supply and act more swiftly to rectify any problems. In addition, DES will also continue maintenance work to improve the efficiency of generating, delivering and distributing electrical power in the country.

SUSTAINABILITY OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

In terms of the sustainability of energy and the environment, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny said the Ministry of Energy will ensure that the growth of the energy sector is in line with the national commitment towards climate and environmental protection.

In efforts to promote energy conservation, he said, “The ministry has issued the Standards and Labelling Order 2021 which will come into force in June. The order will help people make energy-saving choices when buying electrical appliances. It also aims to enhance the level of consumer safety.”

In addition to further encourage prudent use of energy, the Ministry of Energy will increase the use of solar energy as a source of renewable energy in generating electricity power.

He highlighted that in 2021, a request for proposal (RFP) was advertised to develop a solar power site with a capacity of 30 Megawatts in Kampong Belimbing, Subok. The RFP has attracted several interests including foreign investors.

In achieving the ministry’s target of increasing the contribution of solar energy to power generation by 2025, he said “new technologies such as floating solar panels will also be considered. Several suitable areas in the waters of Brunei Darussalam have been identified to place the solar technology. Moreover, this new approach can be implemented without affecting the flora and fauna, and will preserve the treasures and green image of the country to ensure environmental sustainability for the future generations”.

“The major operators of the oil and gas sector also contributed towards supporting the national target of increasing the use of solar energy. In April 2021, Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) launched a solar site with a capacity of 3.3 Megawatts. Apart from the construction of solar sites, the largest oil and gas companies in the Sultanate have also become members of the Industrial Emissions Committee (IEC) responsible for reducing carbon emissions from the oil and gas sector. This is important towards achieving the targets under Strategy 1, Brunei Darussalam’s National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP).”

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny explained that the development of the energy sector will create further employment opportunities among locals. Local employment within the major operators stood at 72 per cent in 2021, supported by the ministry’s Bruneianisation initiatives.

“Toward this, the Ministry of Energy and DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) are developing an Energy Incubation Centre, which Insya Allah will be located at SPARK. The initiative will become a platform to instill a growth mindset for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the energy sector,” the minister added.

The energy sector is estimated to provide local employment opportunities for about 22,900 people in 2022 and to reach 28,000 by 2025. The Ministry of Energy will continue to closely work together with various agencies including the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) and higher educational institutions to develop capacity development opportunities to locals for the energy sector.

REGULATORY ISSUES

“An efficient and conducive regulatory environment is vital in the implementation of the Ministry of Energy’s Strategic Plan, to ensure security and good governance of operations in the energy sector. Alhamdulillah, PA celebrated its second anniversary earlier this year. The authority will continue to ensure maximum return on value from the oil and gas sector for the Sultanate.”

ELECTRIC POWER SECTOR

The Autoriti Elektrik Negara Brunei Darussalam (AENBD) will continue to play its role in regulating the electric power sector and ensuring the implementation as well as compliance of the Electricity Act, Chapter 223 (formerly known as the Electricity Order 2017). It is hoped that under the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Energy, AENBD is also intended to operate as a statutory body in the near future.

SAFETY, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT NATIONAL AUTHORITY (SHENA)

Another authority under the Ministry of Energy is Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA) established in 2018. In 2021, the authority held 97 regulatory inspections and 101 monitoring visits to the largest industrial premises in the country.

SHENA implemented activities to raise awareness among the public about the importance of safety in the workplace. SHENA has reached various sectors, not only in the oil and gas, industrial or commercial sectors, but also in the education and government sectors. It is hoped that SHENA will continue its work to ensure that incidents, major hazards and loss of life in the workplace can be reduced to zero.

Before concluding, the minister said that the Ministry of Energy will always emphasise on close cooperation between agencies and sectors through the whole-of-nation approach.

“COVID-19 has proven that the approach is critical and we must continue to work together and help each other towards achieving the goals of Brunei Vision 2035,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Energy Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Matsatejo bin Sokiaw, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy Haji Azhar bin Haji Yahya, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy Pengiran Haji Jamra Weira bin Pengiran Haji Petra, officials from the ministry, DES, AENBD, SHENA and PA.

Haji Azhar presented on the future plans for the energy sector including the progress of key strategic projects. He also touched on the importance of collaboration with key stakeholders in managing operations during COVID-19 and inculcating energy conservation culture within the population.

The ministry and its regulatory bodies will continue to affirm its commitment to ensuring the regulatory robustness of the energy sector.

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