by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS
The Johor government is aware of the US$180 million (RM734.4 million) ship-to-ship (STS) transfer hub development in the waters of Johor, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The prime minister (PM) said Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian is aware of the project and the development planned in the waters of the state.
“He had mentioned about this when he met me yesterday. This project has been discussed over a long time…I thought everyone knows about it,” he said at the signing ceremony between KA Petra Sdn Bhd and Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd in Putrajaya yesterday.
Dr Mahathir was responding to claims by Gerakan Muafakat Johor that the Johor state government has no knowledge of the project.
Dr Mahathir, who was briefed about the project last year, said the federal government did not receive any objection from the Johor government over the development of the transfer hub.
“I want to know if the Johor state government is going to reject the project. So far, they have not rejected the project…not officially anyway,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the transfer hub development will bring economic benefits to the country.
On Singapore’s views over the development in an area which had been a thorn between the two neighbours, Dr Mahathir said the project area had been clarified with Singapore’s officials after the government received objections from the republic.
“Singapore knows (about this project). They had protested, but we have assured them that it is in Malaysian waters, and not in theirs. As long as we are in our waters, we are entitled.”
Earlier, Dr Mahathir witnessed the signing ceremony between KA Petra and Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port to build the new STS transfer hub in southern Johor.
Under the agreement, KA Petra holds a 70% stake in the project, while Hutchison Port has the remaining 30%.
On Sunday, Gerakan Muafakat Johor claimed that the state government had not been consulted over the project. The social media posting was later shared by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim on his official Facebook account.
Meanwhile, KA Petra founder and executive chairman Datuk Shahrul Amirul said the additional STS hub would generate about RM18 billion and contribute approximately 1.5% to the country’s GDP.
“It will also attract many highly skilled Malaysians who are currently overseas to return to Malaysia, and provide skills and training to the next generation of professionals in the maritime industry,” he said.
Shahrul added that the development of the transfer hub will complement the country’s refinery activities, particularly in Johor, and comply with the global standards.
“The hub will have the capacity to store over nine million tonnes of petroleum products. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will be implementing the IMO 2020 — a regulation that limits the sulphur content in marine fuels.
“With the storage capacity available and the IMO regulation coming into play in January 2020, our hub will be well positioned to become a major trading hub in the region and complement Malaysia’s refinery activities, especially the latest one in Pengerang,” he said.
Based on its preliminary study, KA Petra said the development is estimated to cost between US$150 million and US$180 million and will be fully funded by a combination of internally generated funds and debt financing.
The construction will commence in phases within the next 12 months and is expected to be completed by 2021.
Located in southern Johor, the hub — covering an area of 3,000 acres (1,214ha) — will accommodate about 30 berths.
It will utilise the “dolphin mooring and berthing” concept which will facilitate the docking of vessels and the transfer of liquid contents, such as crude oil, liquefied natural gas and other petroleum-based products.