Interview: Pehin Dato Yasmin Umar
What steps are being taken to create jobs for locals in the oil and gas sector in accordance with the Local Business Development Framework?
PEHIN DATO YASMIN UMAR: The Energy Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO) has taken several steps to increase local employment in the sector, including encouraging oil and gas operators to make employment targets central to their contracts, allowing for rollover of local employees from previous to newly awarded contracts, and creating an overall better work environment by introducing reasonable wages and schedules. The EDPMO has also stressed the importance of ensuring local capabilities and competencies. The office is supporting such efforts through the introduction of programmes, such as the Energy Industry Competency Framework and the Brunei Maritime Academy with the objective of bridging the gap between graduates’ skills and industry’s requirements.
Additionally, we have launched a national apprenticeship scheme with the aim of providing placements for degree and higher national diploma graduates within the industry. These students will be exposed to real working environments which will enable them to better compete in the job market. We are confident that these actions will lead to increased local employment in the oil and gas sector for years to come.
What are your expectations for achieving Brunei Darussalam’s target of 650,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) by 2035?
PEHIN DATO YASMIN: The strategy for achieving this objective is three-fold: implementing secondary and tertiary recoveries from existing producing assets; further exploring current onshore and offshore acreage, including unconventional, small and unconnected fields; and engaging in upstream international ventures, mainly through PetroleumBRUNEI. This is challenging from a technical and development perspective; however, should everything fall into place, it is expected that these activities and ventures would enable us to achieve the 650,000-boepd target by 2035. These activities require major investment, the right technology, critical expertise, hard work and the right mindset among all the players involved in order to be successful. The EDPMO and PetroleumBRUNEI will work hand in hand to ensure that these goals are attained.
What strategies are being developed to boost downstream activity and maximise value added?
PEHIN DATO YASMIN: Growing the downstream industry will help Brunei Darussalam diversify its energy sector, strengthen its resilience to primary energy shocks and optimise the value of upstream gas through the development of higher-value-added downstream derivatives. Four areas have been identified for downstream development: basic chemicals, specialty chemicals, fertilisers and aluminium. In addition to the methanol plant run by the Brunei Methanol Company, several projects have been planned for the next 10 years that would maximise value across the energy chain. The EDPMO, the Brunei Economic Development Board and other government agencies are working hard to attract investment for these opportunities, which would allow for increased economic output, greater local employment and overall business development.
How much of an effect have revised electricity tariffs had on electricity usage in the Sultanate?
PEHIN DATO YASMIN: The revised progressive electricity tariff, which replaced the regressive tariff in 2012, was implemented for the residential sector. This was followed by the substitution of postpaid meters for prepaid meters. This combination has resulted in a significant reduction in electricity usage, and by December 2013 there was a reduction of 266 GWh, or 12% – or 16% reduction if taking into account 4% growth. The natural gas savings from this initiative could be used for downstream development. It is thus safe to say that the introduction of the revised tariff and postpaid meters has been a great success in this respect.
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