DAP: Why no feasibility study for RM4.5b Sabah gas pipeline?

Chan-Foong-HinKOTA KINABALU: Sabah DAP has questioned the absence of a feasibility study for the multi-billion ringgit Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP).

Its secretary, Chan Foong Hin, said RM14 million was spent on a feasibility study for the Labuan-Menumbok bridge project, estimated to cost RM3 billion to RM6 billion.

“Why shouldn’t the government do the same kind of study on the TSGP, which is to cost RM4.53 billion?” said Chan, who is Sri Tanjung assemblyman.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan had announced that the TSGP would be funded with a soft loan of RM4.53 billion from the Export and Import Bank of China, and guaranteed by the Malaysian government.

Chan said the proposed pipeline would cut across Sabah, starting in Kimanis on the west coast and ending in Sandakan in the east coast, after passing through forests and oil palm plantations.

“How much land would be acquired and would it be time-consuming to take over the land?”

He also questioned why the owner-cum-developer of TSGP, Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd, which is owned by the federal finance ministry, must borrow from China.

“Petronas should have paid for the TSGP construction the way it did for the Sabah Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSGP), which started from Kimanis and ended in Bintulu,” he said.

Furthermore, he said he was concerned about who would pay for the RM4.53 billion soft loan, whether it would eventually be borne by Sabah’s electricity consumers.

“How much is the interest rate? How long is the repayment period? Would the electricity tariff in Sabah increase to compensate for any losses made by the project?”

Chan said the people also had the right to know how long it would take to complete the TSGP as power was urgently needed on the east coast.

Since the SSGP, which covered 500km and cost RM4.6 billion, would take four years to complete, the TSGP might not be ready until 2022 at the earliest, he said.

He reminded the government that there was currently no natural gas-powered plant in Sandakan and construction of one would take three years.

The need for at least a 300MW power plant was long overdue since the proposed coal-fired power plant was called off in 2007, he said.

“Would it be too late for the east coast of Sabah to catch up on the energy shortage? Why couldn’t we aim for a faster option to meet the energy demand in the east coast?

“Renewables, such as solar, biomass and biogas, should be the option since the east coast is full of big oil palm plantations.”

According to him, there had been no new energy generation development in the east coast, particularly after the proposed liquefied natural gas power plant in Lahad Datu was scrapped after the intrusion by Sulu militants in 2013.

Now, with the general election just around the corner, the east coast of Sabah still suffers from negative power reserves, he said.

“Can the Barisan Nasional government put in an effort and make things happen, without compromising public interests?”

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