Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trans Peninsular Oil Pipeline - a white elephant in the making

It turns out I am not the only only one questioning the viability of this project to build oil pipeline from Yan, Kedah to Jeli Kelantan.
I read this blogroll ProMahathir on Malaysiakini sidebar.
People in the West are moving away from oil as a source of energy. As much as possible everyone in the West want to be environmentalist, recycle, reuse and avoid using car. Even their everyday consumption, they calculate how much carbon manufacturer and producer use to produce the stuff that they are buying. This is called carbon footprint, they dont want to contribute to global warming.
So here we are in Malaysia proposing to build pipeline across peninsula.
Malaysian environmentalists should be up in arms over this project.
I know, this could be attributed to Malaysian attitute towards oil. As if never ending supply. Cheap subsidized petrol and diesel in Malaysia doesnt help either.
One day we all will wake up and suddenly all the oil in the world is gone.
We would have to explain to our grandchildren how we finished off all the oil, leaving nothing for future generations.
I wrote about it and was in Malaysiakini letters.
13/06: Experts cautious on Malaysian oil pipeline
Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra
(AFP) - Oil industry players have given only cautious approval to Malaysia's multi-billion-dollar northern pipeline project, citing slowing oil demand in the Asian region and cost concerns.

The owner of the project has said it will cost seven billion dollars over seven years to build, with the aim of transporting Middle East oil to East Asia by diverting it from the congested Malacca Strait.

"It saves you some money but it also costs a lot to build the pipeline," the chairman of the Asia Oil and Gas Conference, Fereidun Fesharaki, told AFP on the sidelines of the meeting, which has just been completed.

"Studies should be done to see if it is really economical," he said.

The project's owner, Malaysian firm Trans-Peninsula Petroleum, last month said the 300-kilometre (188-mile) pipeline will cut across the north of Malaysia's peninsula with facilities for storage and transit of crude oil on both coasts.

The oil will come mainly from the Middle East and also Africa for the East Asian oil market, especially oil-hungry China, the company said.

However, Fesharaki, an expert on Asia-Pacific energy markets and a former energy adviser to Iran's prime minister, downplayed rising energy demand in Asia.

With the exception of China, demand for oil in the rest of the region is slowing because of higher prices, he said.

"The pipeline assumes that demand will explode, but demand will not explode. That's the real story," he added.

The pipeline development will be complemented by the construction of two refineries in northern Kedah state on Malaysia's west coast, according to the state's chief minister.

Officials from Iran's state oil company said during the oil and gas conference that the firm will invest in the construction of one of the refineries.

They will also put money into a separate pipeline to transport Iranian-supplied crude from ships berthed in deeper waters off Malaysia's west coast to the refinery.

Ghanimi Fard, the executive director for international affairs with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said the success of the trans-peninsular pipeline would depend on the amount of oil demand from East Asia.

"When we had a growing market for energy, it made sense but based on today's information ... we may not be as sure of the viability of this pipeline," he said.

Koh Ban Heng, the chief executive of Singapore Petroleum Company Limited, said the pipeline was a good alternative to the Malacca Strait, but expressed concerns over the cost of the project.

"We would welcome the pipeline for the sake of energy security because of the limited capacity of the Malacca Strait (but) a big company has to get involved in this, as the capital expenditure is huge," Koh told AFP.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi first announced the development last month as part of the government's efforts to develop the country's northern region.

Trans-Peninsula has said the pipeline project will be operational by 2011, with a maximum capacity of 180 million barrels of storage and six million barrels per day throughput.

Malaysia's Ranhill Engineers and Constructors Sdn Bhd and Indonesia's PT Tripatra are to build the pipeline, while Al-Banader International Group of Saudi Arabia will provide the oil, Trans-Peninsula said.

On completion in 2014, the pipeline will divert about 20 percent of oil transiting through the Strait of Malacca, it said.

Half of the world's oil shipments currently pass through the 960-kilometre strait, the busiest seaway in the world, which links the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

The Strait was notorious for pirate attacks but security officials, who fear the economic and strategic ramifications of any disruption to the vital maritime traffic, say security has vastly improved, though threats remain.


Terang Bulan said...

Sometimes, whenever we do something not beneficial to western or US, they attack us with propagandas. I think this is one of them.

See the contractors who do this project? Does this project benefits US ally - Singapore?

So, I personally think that Oil is still consumable and the project can save bilions. Only Singapore will be affected, and US investment will be too.


Anonymous said...

Isthmus of Kra being less than 50km at narrowest point, Thailand can have the same idea to propose a pipeline, if not a land bridge and even a canal. It would cost at least half the Malaysian price with the shorter distance and better efficiency. There has been talk that this would bring development to Southern Thailand to solve the insurgency problem.

Yes..White Elephant for Malaysian idea!