PETALING JAYA: A Sarawak assistant minister has warned Petronas against taking the state for granted following fresh reports that the company is planning to sell a stake in an upstream gas project.
Speaking to FMT, Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said he was concerned over a recent Reuters report that Petronas was pitching the sale of the SK316 offshore gas block in Sarawak.
Reuters, quoting sources, recently said Petronas was selling the block for an estimated US$1 billion. The potential bidders include Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil Corp, PTT Exploration and Production, and some Japanese firms.
In February, Petronas denied reports that it was planning to sell a 49% stake in SK316.
“I hope Petronas won’t take Sarawak for a ride,” said Karim, who is the state’s assistant minister for housing.
“On one hand, they seem to listen to the state, but we are seeing reports that they are looking to sell what belongs to Sarawak.”
He said Petronas had to be a “gentleman” and not take the state for granted.
“Doing anything that could arouse the anger of the people towards Petronas and the federal government won’t benefit anyone,” he added.
Last year, Petronas was subjected to heavy criticism by the Sarawak public after reports surfaced that it had retrenched 13 Sarawakian workers and that it did not prioritise locals in its hiring.
The state government retaliated by imposing a moratorium on the issuance of work permits to non-Sarawakian Petronas workers.
The late Adenan Satem, who was then chief minister, said the state would also cancel the work permits of non-Sarawakians if Petronas didn’t acquiesce to its demand that it increase the number of local workers.
Subsequently, Sarawak, Petronas and the federal government reached a seven-point agreement, ensuring, among other things, that a Sarawakian would be appointed to Petronas’ board of directors.
The agreement also assured the prioritisation of Sarawakians in Petronas’ employment in the state and increased places for Sarawakians in Universiti Technology Petronas.