Best of our wild blogs: 18 Sep 12

Help us take Johora singaporensis off IUCN’s 100 most threatened animals list! from Raffles Museum News

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Hazy conditions back, but stay in moderate range

Grace Chua Straits Times 18 Sep 12;

THE haze has returned.

At 3pm yesterday, the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) average hit 50, and stayed in the "moderate" range in the evening.

The higher pollution levels came after about a week's reprieve, after the PSI hit a one-year high of 79 on Sept7.

Air quality is considered unhealthy when the index crosses 100.

The hourly reading, given on the National Environment Agency (NEA) website between 7am and 7pm daily, is the average of the previous three hours' air pollution levels.

At 4pm yesterday, the 24-hour PM2.5 level - a measure of very fine particles in the air and another indication of air pollution - ranged from 28 micrograms per cubic m in the central region to 45 in the west.

A 40 to 65 range carries a health advisory by NEA for people to limit prolonged or heavy exertion.

These very fine particles are more able to penetrate the lungs and bloodstream than larger ones, rendering them more hazardous to health.

The annual haze is caused by farmers and logging companies in Indonesia who burn forests to clear land for cultivation.

The NEA said on its website that a current spell of dry weather is aggravating hot spots in southern Sumatra.

This week, both southern Sumatra and Kalimantan have been burning, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite data.

Dry spells are common in the current south-west monsoon season, which typically lasts from June to September or early October.

The prevailing wind is from the south-east or south-west. This carries smoke from the fires in Indonesia to Singapore.

Conditions are likely to persist this week.

"For the coming week, hot spot activities are expected in southern Sumatra due to dry weather conditions and the prevailing low-level winds are expected to blow from south-east or south-west," the NEA said.

"Singapore may experience hazy conditions on some days when the winds blow from the south-west."

The impact of the smoke haze on Singapore is dependent on factors such as the proximity and extent of the fires, the strength and direction of the prevailing winds, and the incidence and amount of rain, it added.

During this monsoon, periods of dry weather are common, interspersed with occasional thundery showers in the afternoon and "Sumatra" squalls in the pre-dawn and early morning.

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Malaysia: Plans for more petrochemical projects

Gearing up to be oil storage hubs
Chuah Bee Kim New Straits Times 17 Sep 12;

POTENTIAL:Together, Pengerang, Tanjung Bin and Tanjung Langsat are able to store up to 10 million cubic metres of petroleum

PENGERANG, Tanjung Bin and Tanjung Langsat in Johor are gearing up to be the oil storage hubs in the southern region.

Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd chief executive Mohd Yazid Ja'afar said the oil storage hubs could store up to 10 million cubic metres of petroleum in total.

He said if the three storage hubs were to join with Singapore, which is the third-biggest petrochemical hub in the world, they could store between 20 and 25 million cubic metres of petroleum by 2025.

"It (the collaboration) will be like the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub," he told reporters at Kota Iskandar here last Friday.

On a separate matter, Mohd Yazid said a Taiwan-based company and another company from Southeast Asia, are currently conducting a feasibility study on the soil structure in Pengerang to ascertain if it is suitable for the setting up of factories there.

If it is feasible, both companies will take up a total of about 2,020 to 2,424 hectares of the land in Pengerang for their projects.

He added that another China-based company is also exploring the possibility of venturing into petro-chemical industry in Tanjung Langsat.

"The government will ensure that companies that wish to have projects here follow the strict environmental guidelines," he said.

It was reported that the Dialog Group holds a 51 per cent stake in a joint-venture project with Vopak. Both parties have a joint-venture with the state government which has a 10 per cent investment in the project.

The new project by the Dialog- led consortium is part of a larger initiative by Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) under its RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) complex in Pengerang.

Petronas has appointed partners including Italy-based Versalis SpA, BASF (Germany), ITOCHU Corp (Japan) and PTT Global Chemical Public Company Ltd (Thailand) for the Rapid project.

Johor's Oil Storage Capacity Expected To Hit 10 Million Cubic Metres From 2017-2020
Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa Bernama 20 Sep 12;

JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 20 (Bernama) -- Johor expects its oil storage capacity to hit 10 million cubic metres in the years 2017-2020 which will see it emerging as Asia's new oil storage hub, said Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd (JPDC).

Its Chief Executive, Mohd Yazid Jaafar, said the oil storage capacity will come from the complexes in Pengerang, Tanjung Bin and Tanjung Langsat.

"We plan to achieve the target (10 million cubic metres) in phases from 2017-2020," he told Bernama in an interview here.

JPDC is a federal government agency, only recently established to coordinate the development of the oil and gas sector in Johor, especially downstream industries such as processing and storage of oil and petrochemicals.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, and Menteri Besar Johor Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, are joint chairman of JPDC.

Mohd Yazid said according to the planning, the Pengerang complex had the potential of storing five million cubic metres of oil, while Tanjung Bin would be able to hold three million and Tanjung Langsat another two million.

Currently, Tanjung Langsat has the capacity for 650,000 cubic metres, while Tanjung Bin can store 840,000 cubic metres.

In Pengerang, Dialog with the cooperation of Royal Vopak NV and the state government is building an Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal (IDPT) facility worth RM5 billion.

The terminal is expected to be fully completed in 2014.

The first phase of the project will include building oil storage facility with the capacity to store 1.3 million cubic metres worth RM1.9 billion. Its completion is due next year.

With further expansion, the facility will be able to take on an additional one million cubic metres of oil.

In a recent interview with Bernama, Johor Port had said that it was in the final rounds of negotiations with three investors for investments worth RM2 billion for the storage of oil in Tanjing Bin Petrochemicals and Maritime Centre (TBPMC).

TBPMC was set up by Seaport Worldwide Sdn Bhd, a fully owned subsidiary company of Johor Port.

Mohd Yazid said JPDC was also looking at a storage turnover of between 0.8 to 1.2 million cubic metres or tank turns per-month, similar to the industry level seen in neighbouring Singapore.

"This means in a year, between 100 million and 140 million cubic metres of oil would be going in and out of the related storage tanks."

Currently, the capacity for independent storage of oil in Singapore amounts to 10 million cubic metres while in Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Amtwerp (ARA) it amounts to 40-45 million cubic metres.


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Pangolins live on the web

TRAFFIC 17 Sep 12;

IUCN’s recently formed Pangolin Specialist Group has launched a new website devoted to pangolin conservation and research.

Pangolins, insect-eating mammals, are found in Asia and Africa and are threatened by habitat loss and illegal trade for their meat and unique scales, used in traditional medicine.

All eight pangolin species are protected under national and international laws, and two are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

1,220 pangolins were confiscated during one recent INTERPOL operation, including one shipment containing 5 tonnes of frozen pangolins.

“Although tens of thousands of illegally traded pangolins are seized each year, some of the biggest problems facing conservationists is a lack of data about this illegal trade, its routes, its sources, and even about the animals themselves,” said pangolin researcher Dan Challender, co-Chair of the new Specialist Group.

The Pangolin Specialist Group's website,, will serve as an authoritative resource on pangolins, providing conservationists and the public with current information about the animals’ natural history, research projects, and strategies to combat the threats that put pangolins at risk.

It was unveiled last week at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea.

The Pangolin Specialist Group comprises scientists, veterinarians, and conservation professionals. The 65 members aim to curb the loss and decline of wild pangolin populations by identifying and promoting strategic conservation solutions and informing effective domestic and international governmental action.

The Group is part of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC), a global network of volunteer experts working to conserve biodiversity. More than 120 Specialist Groups are currently active within the SSC.

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