3 investors want to locate projects in Spark

National 3 minutes, 32 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THREE investors from the region are undergoing the initial phases of getting approval to locate projects in the 571-hectare Sungai Liang Industry Park (Spark) envisioned to be Brunei's very own petrochemical hub.All three are so-called downstream investors, or companies involved in the post-production phase of oil and gas operations.

In an exclusive interview with The Brunei Times, Aziz Latip, acting chief executive officer of the Sungai Liang Authority, said that negotiations were still going on to sort out certain environmental preconditions to be fulfilled by the companies.

"There's still a long way to go. Some may need approval from other stakeholders because our policy is before they come here, we want to make sure that these industries will not pollute the environment," he said.

"They will have to provide us with their environmental impact assessments that need to be approved by the authority. That is the first major step," he said.

The industrial park views environmental protection as an essential component to be adhered to by any investor showing interest before discussing any form of proposal.

"We want to see if it can provide us with a clean industry. Provide us with that information then we will inform the authorities that this is the plan ... if we have no objections we can then discuss the merit of the proposal, if it can benefit the country, economy and people," he said.

The acting CEO hopes that a conclusion of the status of these three companies will be reached by the third quarter of this year.

"Having the three companies would be a bonus, negotiations are still being carried out because a lot of issues need to be addressed," he said.

Aziz said the Sungai Liang community of Belait district will either directly or indirectly like a 'domino effect' benefit from the jobs and business opportunities that would come from the park.

The authority ensures local involvement with foreign companies through its set fundamental policies, such as working with local suppliers and providing job employment opportunities to the locals.

"In their (foreign investors) projects we encourage them to spend 75 per cent or two-thirds of its project value to be channelled through local suppliers. What we want is to put a milestone where after a certain number of years operating a certain percentage of their human resources are to be local," he said.

The Brunei Methanol Plant (BMC), the earliest tenant to secure a 16-hectare site in the park, has so far employed 80 locals where once fully operational aims to increase that number to 150.

"In our policy also, it is required that when they hire locals, they should assist and train them too. At the methanol plant they have already started sending our locals all the way to their counterparts in Venezuela, India and Japan to be trained," he said.

Aziz stressed that the authority is always on the lookout for investors spurring improvements works within the site to make it more attractive.

He said the site clearance is being undertaken, including putting up security fencing, building concrete drainage, widening the existing entrance road to the park as well as the creation of an emergency access out of the park.

Improvement works and infrastructural development are hoped to be completed by August this year.

In a separate project scheduled to begin next month, the authority will be looking for local consultants and contractors for the development of a 'zone village'.

This will occupy five hectares with an administrative office, multi-purpose hall, fire department and clinic. The village has a concept of a recreational area that would be open to the public.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to establish the Sungai Liang Authority in April last year to administer the development of the Sungai Liang Industrial Park as a world-class industrial park, and to facilitate and support investments in the park.

In 2004, the 271-hectare site in Sungai Liang was assigned to the Brunei Economic Development Board by His Majesty's Government to be developed into a world-class site.

The location for this site was chosen due to its adjacent position to the sultanate's well established oil and gas industry.

The Brunei Times