Abang Johari (left) after the signing of a plaque.

BINTULU: The first methanol plant here will be a significant catalyst for economic growth in Sarawak.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg expressed his delight with the project’s earth-breaking ceremony in Tanjong Kidurong yesterday.

He opined that the plant would be a key component to drive further Sarawak’s economy.

The plant is the second to be built in Malaysia after the one in Labuan.

“We aspire to achieve developed status and under the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), we will ensure that Sarawakians participate in the process together with the private sector.”

Abang Johari expressed his confidence that the development of the petrochemical industry would be a major economic engine for Sarawak in five to 10 years to come.

Sarawak, he said, aspired to be a developed state by 2030.

Abang Johari (left) after the signing of a plaque.

“It’s just a decade away to reach (2030) that status…our economy is the third-largest in the country after Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. In 2018, Sarawak’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was RM129.7 billion.

He added, in order to expand the state’s economy further, it is crucial to increase value-added activities in all sectors of its economy.

“This will be done via industrialisation by shifting to higher value-added activities, undertaking productivity-driven growth initiative and application of advanced technology.

“We want to maximise the oil and gas sector’s contributions to the state’s economy, in doing so, we want Bintulu to be another petrochemical industry,” he said.

He added, the spinoff from the plant would definitely impact investors abroad.

With Sarawak’s track record in FDI in the last decade, its ability to attract about RM30 bln in investment since the inception of SCORE was proof that it is capable of venturing into the oil and gas industry, he said.

“Besides creating job opportunities (a workforce of 4,000 during the construction of the plant), once completed in 2030, it would attract investors to the petrochemical industry here,” Abang Johari said.

He said the plant here, covering approximately 75 acres (30 hectares), marked a milestone for Sarawak’s realisation and involvement in the petrochemical-downstream oil and gas industry.

The plant, once completed, is capable of producing 5,000 metric tonnes per day (MTPD) of methanol using Air Liquide technology.

The plant will utilise 19,000 cubic metres per day of water and approximately 17MW of electricity.

The main construction will start in the first quarter of 2020 and ready by the end of 2022.

The project will be undertaken and developed by Sarawak Petchem Sdn Bhd (Sarawak Petchem).

Sarawak Petchem will be the first Sarawakian company to produce methanol with an annual capacity of 1.7 million metric tonnes per annum.

Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industry Terminal and Ports Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Bintulu MP Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, other state cabinet ministers and Sarawak Petchem chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain.