In a titah delivered at the first National Development Plan Executive Committee Meeting at Istana Nurul Iman on September 21, 2020, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al- Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di- Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said all National Development Plan (RKN) meetings should be based on thorough research supported by facts with open discussions, focussing on issues relevant to socio-economic growth, in addition to the development of the oil and gas sector.
In the titah, His Majesty said, “I see that any planning under the upcoming National Development Plan project, especially the 12th National Development Plan will not only focus on the provision or construction of infrastructure, but also on projects that can contribute to efficiency and productivity.” In implementing any plan, several factors need to be taken into account such as the resilience of the project, its contribution to industrial and economic development as well as its ability to stimulate fiscal resilience of the nation, said the monarch.
In addition, matters that need to be included in the planning are to provide employment opportunities to locals by emphasising on incountry value and improving skills.
With regards to investment initiatives, the country’s economy has been boosted by the full operation of Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd, a petrochemical joint venture between Brunei Darussalam and China.
On September 24, 2020, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah announced that Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd was expanding into the second phase construction of its oil refinery and petrochemical project at Pulau Muara Besar.
The Hengyi project is now in full swing indicating an increase in economic growth. The project, which went into full operation at the end of 2019, gave Brunei’s second quarter (GDP) gross domestic product growth in 2020 a major boost.
According to the minister, Brunei also has other projects lined up to diversify the country’s economy and contribute to higher GDP growth besides creating more employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the construction of Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) solar plant officially began after a ground-breaking ceremony on July 10, 2020 at the G11 site on Jalan Tengah, Seria.
The 3.3MWp utility-scale solar PV plant, which will see the installation of about 7,000 solar panels, is another milestone for BSP. Once operational, the low-carbon electricity generated from the solar panels will offset some of the power used by the BSP Headquarters building on Jalan Utara in Panaga.
The solar power generated is equivalent to the electricity consumption of approximately 600 households per year.
It was shared during remarks at the event that BSP is committed to increasing renewable energy uptake within its operational and nonoperational assets such as the offices. The BSP solar project is a demonstration of that commitment as BSP continues its journey of energy diversification and decarbonisation. Expected to be completed by early 2021, the solar project will also provide a platform for Bruneians to expand their skillsets in renewable energy. The solar project will enable BSP to continue fuelling Brunei’s future for generations to come.
Another notable initiative is Japan’s Advanced Hydrogen Energy Chain Association for Technology Development (AHEAD), which launched its pilot project to ship hydrogen from Brunei to Tokyo Bay for use as a power generation fuel, the world’s first supply chain of foreign-origin hydrogen.
In this project, hydrogen is produced by steam reforming processed gas from the Brunei LNG liquefaction process.
The hydrogen is then converted into methylcyclohexane (MCH) by using toluene. MCH is a liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, and can therefore be safely stored and transported.
The MCH is shipped to Tokyo Bay, where the hydrogen is extracted to be used as fuel. Toluene from the process is then transported back to Brunei, to be reused for converting hydrogen into MCH.
The highly anticipated bridge linking Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan and its Temburong District opened for use on March 17, 2020.
On July 14, 2020, in a titah to mark the monarch’s 74th birthday the following day, His Majesty described the bridge as a prominent symbol of modernisation for Brunei Darussalam.
“Especially on this sign of modernisation, it reminds me of the Architect of Modern Brunei. This reminder gives me inspiration to name the bridge Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge with a hope that through this, it will bring blessings,” His Majesty said.
Travelling along the 30 kilometre long bridge allows commuters approximately 35 minutes to reach Pekan Bangar from Kampong Sungai Besar entry point, giving ease to those in Temburong District to travel back and forth.
Construction of the bridge started in 2014. The project was implemented under several construction packages, carried out by multiple companies including China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Daelim Industrial Co Ltd and Swee Sdn Bhd.
The bridge has also created new opportunities as a tourism gateway, providing people easier access to Temburong, the country’s ‘Green Jewel’ district.
New additions to existing tourism products and activities in Temburong were announced in January 2020, when a contract-signing ceremony was held for two projects by the Tourism Development Department under the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) with its appointed developers.
The first project involves the development of a luxury eco-resort at Kampong Perdayan, as well as the refurbishment, operation and maintenance of the old district office in Pekan Bangar.
The second project involves the development of a river centre at Kampong Batang Duri.
With travel restrictions in place amid COVID-19 pandemic, the bridge has led to an increase in domestic tourism. Many locals had never visited Temburong prior to the bridge’s opening, due to the district not being as easily accessible in the past.
Incorporated on February 21, 2017, the Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd (MPC) is a joint venture between Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd (DA) and Beibu Gulf Holding (HK) Co Ltd.
The establishment of MPC plays a significant role towards contributing to the nation’s growth and unlocking the potential of Brunei Darussalam’s principal port to become a world-class international hub by diversifying the economy, increasing connectivity and sustainable development, and facilitating the growth of Brunei’s logistics and manufacturing industries.
MPC provides storage facilities such as the newly refurbished warehouses and open areas for storage, stuffing and unstuffing services and other logistics solutions to accommodate business needs. In addition, MPC provides freshwater supply to vessels, mooring and unmooring services, berthing for vessels and conducive for cargo handling and transfer.
In line with the country’s Smart Nation goals and keeping abreast with the Industrial Revolution 4.0, MPC is committed to serving the demands of digital transformation, particularly through the introduction of a Terminal Operating System called TOPS 5.0. The system was designed to assist in managing the container terminal operations from vessel and terminal yard planning, and to monitor realtime on-site operations, to ensure efficiency and productivity.
By generating daily operational reports, this ensures quality service provisions are rendered at all times. The cutting edge peripherals and instrumentations used at the terminal, the control centre and fleets are among the best in the region, allowing seamless operations at the terminal. Since the system’s introduction and based on feedback shared by MPC’s clients, Muara Port excels in terms of speed, efficiency, reliability and safety within the region.
MPC’s formation was a result of the Brunei- Guangxi Economic Corridor (BGEC) friendship with the aim to boost bilateral trade and investments, in line with the Belt and Road initiative.
The establishment of MPC initiated new flagship projects to be continuously developed between Brunei and China. Formerly known as the Agro- Technology Park, Brunei’s Bio-Innovation Corridor was launched as the core special economic zone to nurture BGEC’s value-added strategy. Through BGEC, third-party countries can utilise Brunei Darussalam as a launch pad to access the Chinese market, positioning Brunei as a gateway in the region in the pursuit to capitalise the Belt and Road initiative.
In October 2020, MPC and Brunei Shell Marketing Sdn Bhd (BSM) introduced bunkering services at Muara Port. The joint initiative aims to spur more development and facilitate the refuelling of cargo ships at Muara Port’s wharf area.
Furthermore, MPC owns the Aggregate Landing Site (ALS) used for handling aggregates, which is located adjacent to the container berth, and there are potential for the proximity areas to be expanded and developed.
In 2020, the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, granted MPC the concession to build and operate the Fish Landing Complex (FLC) in Muara. Brunei has a coastline of 161 kilometres and features an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which extends 200 nautical miles outwards into the South China Sea, which boosts rich fishery resources through its coastal mangrove that provides optimal breeding grounds for fish.
The Muara International Fish Landing (MIFL), a new subsidiary company under MPC, commenced operations in January 2021. MIFL envisages to transform the fish landing complex into a modern and efficient facility that is capable of accommodating an increase of fishery volumes and fishery vessel sizes.
By leveraging on Beibu Gulf Port’s extensive expertise and capabilities, MPC has contributed significantly to Brunei’s economic diversification efforts. The Sultanate has raised the efficiency of its container port operations by 60 per cent since takeover, in addition to achieving a higher trade volume by 20 per cent.
Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said this in a recorded keynote speech at the 11th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum in October 2020.
Brunei, rich in natural resources such as oil and natural gas, is located at the centre of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). The Brunei-China cooperation not only strengthens the connection between China and BIMP-EAGA countries, but also benefits China-ASEAN cooperation as well as the Belt and Road Initiative.
He also noted that ASEAN and China are in the middle of establishing a multi-dimensional logistics network with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. This corridor promotes a more efficient logistics network by utilising multiple transport methods and facilitates trade between ASEAN and Western China.
With strong efforts by China in recent years to promote the development of smart ports in Beibu Gulf, coupled with the strategic location and connection with ASEAN member countries, Brunei is looking at the opportunity through the existing cooperation in Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor to play a stronger role in the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor
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