Sarawak hails move to clarify rights over oil

Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah says Sarawak’s rights are clearly stated in laws pertinent to the formation of Malaysia. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A Sarawak minister has welcomed Petronas’ move to let the Federal Court settle the issue of ownership of petroleum resources in the country.

“It’s good that Petronas is finally taking the matter to court for clarification so that Sarawak and Malaya can revisit what they negotiated and agreed to when they formed Malaysia,” said Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, the state minister for tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports.

“As far as Sarawak is concerned, resources within the state’s territory, which includes its continental shelf, belong to the state and require the state’s permission to extract.”

He told FMT this was clearly stipulated in the Sarawak Mining Ordinance, Sarawak Land Code, Sarawak constitution and other laws related to the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

He also said Petronas was entitled to seek a court declaration of its rights under the 1974 Petroleum Development Act (PDA).

The company said in a media statement yesterday that it had applied for a declaration of its exclusive ownership of the country’s petroleum resources.

It said it made the application in the belief that the court decision “would help provide clarity” on its legal rights.

“Petronas remains committed to supporting Sarawak’s aspirations to participate in the oil and gas industry in the state for as long as it is within the framework of the PDA,” it added.

Petronas’ statement came in the wake of reports that the newly installed federal government would seek higher contributions from it to offset the shortfall in revenue resulting from the virtual abolition of the goods and services tax.

Last March, the Sarawak government asserted its rights over petroleum resources in the state, saying it planned to assume full regulatory authority on upstream and downstream activities in July.

The state has formed its own oil and gas company, Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), for the purpose.

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