More grumble over Sarawak firm’s bid for Sabah gas project

By Mae Onini, The Malaysian Insider

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 25 — A Sabah MP has urged Petronas to be fair to the state’s business community when awarding contracts for the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal (SOGT), amid speculation a Sarawak government company is the frontrunner for the billion-ringgit job.

Putatan MP Datuk Marcus Mojigoh said it was unfortunate that the RM1 billion project to build the SOGT and other related development had to be awarded to a company from outside the state.

“To be honest, I’m very sure many people would not be happy with the situation,” said Mojigoh who is also the UPKO treasurer, a Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) component party. 

While confessing he was not shocked with the decision, Mojigoh expressed hoped that Sabah companies would still be given the opportunities to take part in minor projects related to the SOGT.  

“I have to admit that Sabah may not have enough expertise in oil and gas industry compared to Sarawak which has been in the field for a very long time,” he said.

Mojigoh added that those who opposed the decision would question the sincerity of federal leaders in promoting unity while sidelining Sabah in luxurious projects.

However, he said as a BN leader he accepted the government’s decision.

“If the government thinks there is no qualified Sabah contractor, that is their right,” said Mojigoh.

“But I hope Petronas would be fair by distributing minor projects to Sabahan contractors,” he added.

The Malaysian Insider yesterday reported that Naim Cendera Sdn Bhd — a unit of a company owned by Tan Sri Taib Mahmud’s Sarawak administration — is leading the race for a lucrative contract worth more than RM1 billion to build the SOGT and other related projects, and this was breeding discontent among local politicians and businesses.

Petronas Carigali, a subsidiary of the national oil company controlled by the federal government, is set to award the project soon.

But it is understood that Naim Cendera has already been sending out feelers to local sub-contractors that it has already clinched the deal.

It is understood that a Sabah joint venture has struck up a partnership with a China oil company to make a bid for the project.

Sources said the Sabah-China bid is at least US$50 million (RM160 million) lower than that of the Naim Cendera proposal.

Petronas has yet to respond to a request for comment.

The national oil company had invited bids this year after a three year hiatus for SOGT’s engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning project.

The earlier invitation for bids in 2007 was pulled back due to “technical reasons.”

Meanwhile, Federation of Sabah Manufacturers president Datuk Wong Khen Thau said the government has not been fair to the local industry by awarding the project to a company from outside the state.

Acknowledging that it was Petronas’ prerogative to award the contract as they saw fit, he hoped that the government would be transparent in explaining why priority was not given to Sabah contractors.

Wong said the decision would have difficulty boosting the income levels of Sabahans.

“The project has been awarded to outsider, so the wish of the Sabahans to increase their income would not be fulfilled,” said Wong.

“Many of my members are in the industry, I doubt it there is any hope for them to get a minor component of the project,” he added.