While everyone is doing Nusajaya Dreamin', things are happening up north (no, I am not talking about the shootings in southern Thailand). There will be an oil pipeline to be constructed across northern Malaysia, and the project has been signed, sealed and delivered. Due to start work on August 2007. The aim is to avoid the pirates-ladened and congested Melaka Straits.
The pipeline will cost RM50bn (US$14.5bn) and 70% will be from foreign sources. A large portion has been promised by National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). The big losers here include Singapore and the US. Iran is not a close buddy of the US, Singapore is. The pipeline will divert stock away from Singapore thus lessening Singapore's influence and hence US strategic pawns in the region. Washington -Teheran ties are strained to say the least. Malaysia, always seen as the neutral-Islamic factor, can play the best of both hands. The ties that bind, the friend you need.
Refineries will be built in Yan and Bachok, touching Kedah's west coast and Kelantan's east coast. The 320km pipeline will also service downstream industries planned along the pipeline (e.g. shipyards, slipways, lubricant plants). Already 3 jvs have been signed. One for each of the refinery and one for the pipeline. The Yan refinery will be built by NIOC and SKS Ventures Sdn Bhd. SKS Ventures Sdn Bhd has just signed a US$16bn deal to develop 2 gas fields in southern Iran. The Bachok refinery will be built by Merapoh Resources Corp as the lead team. The pipeline will be built by Trans -Malaysia Petroleum. Foreign investors having signed up include Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan, following after Iran being the biggest jv partner. Kedah and Kelantan will have a 5% stake in each of the jv.
Once operational the pipeline can ship 800,000 barrels a day or about 10% of the daily volume handled by Singapore. Currently, nearly half of the world's oil go through the Melaka Straits. The plan while ambitious, is doable and will bring about downstream industries as planned to the industry-starved northern Malaysia region. Naturally environmentalists will go ballistic over the forest area the pipeline will cut through.