Sarawak Oil and Gas Fund would benefit future generations

February 2, 2020
Dr Ir Abang Hatta Abang Taha

KUCHING: Sarawak should establish the Sarawak Oil and Gas Fund from at least 30 percent or more of the state’s present and future oil and gas income, proposed Yusuf Abdul Rahman, director of media communications and legal at Suarah Petroleum Group (SPG).

He said to ensure future sustainable income from oil and gas, it would be necessary for the state to move a portion of the income into non-oil and -gas investments.

“So, when the oil and gas run out, we will still have income — which actually started from our oil and gas. These investments need to be properly managed so that future generation of Sarawakians will benefit,” he explained.

“The Sarawak Oil and Gas Fund should start with a first capital transfer of RM1 billion or more,” he added.

He was speaking at a forum themed ‘Fight for Our Rights, Fight It Right’ on the history and future of Sarawak’s oil and gas, organised by SPG at the Sarawak State Library yesterday.

Yusuf suggested for the fund to be set up by law and managed independently with complete transparency, reporting to the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) and Cabinet.

He said that this was something the federal government had not done, but Sarawak should start. “If we do not bother, our future generations will never get to enjoy any part of this oil and gas wealth.”

He used the Norwegian Oil Fund as an example, pointing out that the asset market value was now worth more than RM4.3 trillion after 22 years since its first capital transfer of RM882 million in 1996.

“The Norwegian Oil Fund today is equivalent to three times of Norway’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and worth about RM827,547 for each of Norway’s 5.5 million citizens,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gabungan Binaan Jurutenaga Sdn Bhd managing director Dr Ir Abang Hatta Abang Taha in his presentation touched on the outlook of the oil and gas industry.

He described it as challenging due to many factors including dwindling traditional reserves, low oil prices, emergence of new hydrocarbon sources, increasing penetration of renewable energy, electric vehicles, strict carbon regulations, and better energy storage technologies.

He said the industry should adopt digital transformation to overcome such challenges by improving efficiency.