Johor reclamation project 'to create oil storage hub'

Reme Ahmad The Straits Times AsiaOne 27 Jun 14;

One of the two massive reclamation projects coming up in the Johor Strait will be turned into an oil storage hub to capture spill-over oil and gas business from Singapore, an official with the company involved in the works said yesterday.

The project involving Benalec Holdings will raise a 1,410ha man-made island near Jurong Island, the firm's chief operating officer Bernard Boey told The Straits Times.

The reclamation is expected to begin before the end of the year.

The project, located off Johor's Tanjung Piai coast, is roughly twice the size of Ang Mo Kio.

The massive size of the other planned reclamation in the Johor Strait near the Second Link bridge has also sparked controversy, given the lack of details from the developer, China's Country Garden Holdings and its partner Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

The Forest City reclamation, as it is called, is reportedly 2,000ha in total area - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio.

The man-made island near Jurong Island that Benalec is involved in is called the Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park, according to the firm's website. Once completed, oil storage facilities would be built, Mr Boey said.

"Our intention is to capture the spillover from Jurong," he said, referring to Jurong Island's position as a global energy and chemicals hub with some $42 billion worth of investments.

The Malaysian government's plan to capture some of the global energy business from Singapore includes backing the construction of a US$16 billion (S$20 billion) project on the other side of Johor, in Pengerang, called the Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (Rapid) development, media reports say.

Benalec is also involved in the reclamation works to extend the shoreline of the Rapid project in Pengerang, Mr Boey said. "The route of oil from the Middle East that is heading to China, Japan and (South) Korea - if you have these facilities, you can cater to the demand," Mr Boey said.

He said that apart from the plans by Malaysia, there are international companies setting up oil storing hubs in Indonesia's Batam and Karimun islands.

The Benalec and Forest City plans have raised concerns among environmentalists because fishing grounds, water flows and mangrove forests would be affected.

Mr Boey said the reclamation works for the oil storing hub would start only after the authorities are satisfied with the way the project promoters plan to mitigate its impact on the surrounding environment. Benalec is expected to pay compensation to fishermen in nearby villages who would be affected, he said.

Work near Second Link 'has stopped'

Johor's Cabinet minister for the environment Ayub Rahmat said the Chinese developer of a controversial reclamation project in the Johor Strait voluntarily stopped work about a week ago, pending studies on its environmental impact.

Singapore has expressed its concern over the Forest City project in diplomatic notes to Putrajaya, asking it for more details so it could study the possible impact on the Republic and the strait.

"The developers voluntarily stopped the project about a week ago," he told The Straits Times yesterday, saying the works could restart only when the authorities are satisfied that its environmental impact would be mitigated.

The 2,000ha project near the Second Link, on the Malaysian side of the border, is being developed by China's Country Garden Holdings and a Johor state company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

The project, which is to be carried out over 30 years, has raised concerns over its environmental impact, including its effect on nearby mangrove swamps, marine animals and the flow of water in the narrow Johor Strait.

Work on a 49ha plot of reclaimed land as part of Forest City started in March, with plans for a tourist hub, an 80-room hotel and recreational facilities, the New Straits Times newspaper reported yesterday.

Datuk Ayub, Johor's State Health and Environment Committee chairman, said that while the reclamation is less than 50ha, the developers have to submit environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies because they planned to build the 80-room hotel on the man-made island, thus increasing its density.

A report in The Edge Review online magazine last month said the Forest City project promoters had planned to divide the 2,000ha project - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio estate - into smaller plots of 50ha to avoid having to submit EIA reports. Malaysian environmentalists have expressed concerns over the consequences of the project, pointing out that the area is home to mangroves, sea-horses and dugongs.

Mr Ayub said all development projects will impact the surrounding environment, and the developers thus have to provide details about how they would mitigate the effect while the project is being carried out, and also how the area would be rehabilitated after the project is completed.

The Johor state government would monitor further discussions between the project developers and the Department of Environment, he said.

Johor Straits project: KL affirms commitment to international law

This photo, taken yesterday from Tuas, shows reclamation work off the Strait of Johor for Malaysia’s Forest City project. Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman has said it remains committed to international law, after reports that reclamation had been halted.
Today Online 26 Jun 14;

KUALA LUMPUR — Amid concerns over a massive land reclamation project to create a housing development in the Strait of Johor near Singapore’s Second Link, Malaysia has assured the Republic it remains committed to international law, following reports that the reclamation work had been halted.

“The Government of Malaysia remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the general principles of international law and in particular, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman was quoted as saying in Malaysian media reports yesterday. He said Malaysia also took cognisance of the provisions of the 2005 Settlement Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore — which concerned disagreements over land reclamation by Singapore in and around the Strait of Johor — for the exchange of information and discussions on matters affecting their respective environments in the Strait.

The Republic recently expressed concerns about the possible transboundary impact from the reclamation work in the Strait and requested more information from Malaysia, so it could undertake a study on the impact of the reclamation works.

“There are also international obligations for both Malaysia and Singapore authorities to work closely on such matters,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said on Saturday.

Malaysia media reports said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also wrote to his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak about the issue, after two diplomatic notes were sent to Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry last month, while a third note was handed to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mr Wahid Omar, when he visited Singapore recently.

Yesterday, the New Straits Times (NST) reported Mr Anifah as saying Malaysia has been engaging Singapore on the issue through the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE).

“The Federal Government, led by the Department of Environment (DOE), has close consultation with the Johor government and the project developers. The ministry and other relevant agencies are also engaged in the consultation,” the minister was quoted as saying in a statement in response to Singapore’s concerns.

The joint committee is co-chaired by the DOE director-general and the chief executive of the National Environment Agency of Singapore.

On Monday, local media reports quoted Johor State Health and Environment Committee chairman Ayub Rahman as saying Malaysia’s DOE had issued a stop-work order on the reclamation. The Forest City project involves creating a 1,817ha island almost three times the size of Ang Mo Kio and the construction of luxury homes. The project, which includes a 49ha tourist hub and recreational facilities, is expected to be completed in 30 years’ time.

The NST had reported that reclamation work for the tourist hub began in early March and was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Based on Malaysian regulations, projects that are larger than 50ha require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report before they can be approved.

However, The Malaysian Insider reported that, as of June 15, publicly available information on the DOE’s web portal showed no EIA report had been submitted for the Forest City project or another, 1,410ha reclamation project off Tanjung Piai, in another part of the Strait of Johor off Tuas, undertaken by Benalec Holdings for the purpose of building an industrial oil and gas hub. AGENCIES

KL assures Singapore it will observe rule of law
AsiaOne 26 Jun 14;

Malaysia assured Singapore that it would observe international law, amid concerns over two massive reclamation projects on the Malaysian side of the Johor Strait.

"The Government of Malaysia remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the general principles of international law and in particular, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a statement on Tuesday in response to Singapore's concerns.

The minister added that Malaysia has engaged Singapore on the issue through a Joint Committee on the Environment, which was co-chaired by the heads of Malaysia's Department of Environment and Singapore's National Environment Agency.

He also said that Malaysia's federal government has been in close consultation with the Johor state government and the property developers involved, reported the New Straits Times.

One of the two reclamation projects, a 1,410ha man-made island near Jurong Island, is intended to be furnished with oil storage facilities to capture the spillover energy business from Singapore, marine construction firm Benalec told The Straits Times.

The other project, the 2,000ha Forest City near the Second Link, is being developed by China's Country Garden Holdings and a Johor state company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

This island is intended to be turned into a tourist hot spot, complete with hotel, luxurious apartments and recreational facilities.

Singapore had last Saturday voiced concern over possible transboundary impact from the massive projects, given its proximity to Johor
Back in 2002, Malaysia had similarly objected to Singapore's land reclamation works in Tuas and Pulau Tekong, arguing that the projects could potentially impinge on Malaysia's territorial waters, causing pollution and destroying the marine environment in the Strait of Johor.

The dispute was resolved after the two countries appeared before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and signed an agreement in 2005.