Best of our wild blogs: 25 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching at Beting Bemban Besar
wild shores of singapore

Rainy Night Walk At Venus Drive (24 June 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Malaysia: Benalec’s entire Tg Piai reclamation project gets DOE approval

The Star 23 Jun 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Benalec Holdings Bhd has received the green light from the Department of Environment (DOE) for all three phases of its Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Petrochemical Hub and Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor.

The marine construction firm said on Thursday that the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by 70% owned subsidiary Spektrum Kukuh and Johor State Secretary Inc for Phases 2 and 3 got the nod on Friday last week.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the company said this was for the balance area of 2,407 acres of the total reclamation area of 3,487 acres.

The go-ahead for Phase 1 of the project had been received in January 2015.

The company said the DEIA approval encompassed the reclamation construction for all three phases of TPMIP, oil storage terminals and related marine facilities, which will be capable of accommodating vessels up to 350,000 deadweight tonnage.

“The approval also includes infrastructure components on TPMIP such as jetties, a land bridge connecting TPMIP to the mainland of Tanjung Piai, and drainage channel dredging activities in the waters of Tanjung Piai, Johor,” it added.

Reclamation works for Phase 1 began in December last year after the relevant approvals were secured, and there has been formation of land covering more than 100 acres at the project to date, Benalec group managing director Datuk Vincent Leaw Seng Hai said in a press statement.

The company said its reclamation and development works for the Pengerang Maritime Industrial Park at Teluk Ramunia, Johor, had also secured the development order and earthwork plan approvals.

According to reports, among the directors of Spektrum Kukuh are the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris Sultan Ibrahim and Daing A Malek Daing A Rahaman, who are said to be partners to Benalec in the Tanjung Piai project.

Benalec shares gained 3 sen to close at 50 sen on Thursday,with 1.665 million shares changing hands.

Benalec confident of raising enough cash internally for project
S. PUSPADEVI The Star 27 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Benalec Holdings Bhd is confident it can generate enough cash internally to fund the reclamation works of the massive Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor.

Having reclaimed more than 2,400 acres in Malacca, group managing director and CEO Datuk Vincent Leaw Seng Hai said the firm had to date monetised most of its reclaimed land and was seeing the fruit of its labour.

“We have to fork out the entire reclamation costs upfront and recoup our investments later on as we monetise the land we have entitlement to as payment in kind.

“Our main source of internally generated funds come from the monetisation of our reclaimed land,” he revealed.

At present, the group has over 200 acres of reclaimed land that have yet to be sold and more than 300 acres awaiting to be reclaimed in Malacca, apart from an additional 100 acres being held for sale in Pulau Indah, Port Klang.

“We are optimistic that we can monetise these land banks soon to generate more cash flow to reinvest into our TPMIP in Johor,” he said.

According to the latest quarterly report, Benalec has total liabilities of RM161.64 mil, including bonds of RM149.9mil. Its cash amounted to RM142.19mil and this includes fixed deposits of RM133.51mil.

Benalec carved a niche to reclaim land in Malacca where it had sold seafronting properties.

On that note, Leaw said the group would replicate its strategy in Melaka for its Johor projects.

Meanwhile, Leaw revealed that Benalec was also exploring other routes of equity fund raising for future investments.

This was not restricted to land reclamation but for also oil terminals by way of private placements, rights issue, merger and acquisitions, and even a dual listing in Singapore, he said, adding that this would enhance the group’s profile since many oil majors and multinational corporations had their businesses rooted in Singapore.

Benalec hoped that the income generated from the storage leased out by tank terminal would be its future revenue stream, while it explored other methods to boost its recurring income by promoting its land at TPMIP and Pengerang Maritime Industrial Park.

“We will be exploring outright sales, upfront leases, annual leases and joint ventures with potential partners depending on their requirements,” he added.

Going forward, Leaw opined that with the present market condition, it would be appropriate to make investments now that raw material prices were at their lowest.

Taking into consideration the growth in energy and its demand in South-East Asia in the coming years, he believed the projects in Johor would lead to more inflow of foreign investments into Malaysia.

Benalec maps out strategy in Johor
S. PUSPADEVI The Star 27 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Marine engineering firm, Benalec Holdings Bhd, which has the rights to reclaim land equivalent to half the size of Jurong, Singapore off the south-west coast of Johor, is going into the oil storage business through a joint venture with a large international logistics company.

Towards this end, Benalec has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company last Friday, which it declined to disclose the details, to conduct a feasibility study with the view of building and operating a greenfield oil storage terminal project at Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) in Johor.

“It is our preliminary mutual understanding that this counter party shall be the majority shareholder of the project and the terminal would also be operated and branded under their trade mark,” group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Vincent Leaw Seng Hai told StarBiz yesterday.

Under the MoU, the international firm would be the majority shareholder of the oil storage terminal, while Banelec was looking into the possibility of holding a minority stake.

Leaw said the oil storage facility would inevitably provide stable recurring income from storage leases, in line with the group’s strategy to diversify its business portfolio.

Last week Benalec received the approval from the Department of Environment to reclaim phase two and phase three totalling 2,407 acres for the development of TPMIP. The TPMIP is carried out by Spectrum Kukuh Sdn Bhd where Benalec has a 70% stake while the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris Sultan Ibrahim and Daing A. Malek Daing A. Rahaman owned the rest.

Approval for phase one of the project involving 1,080 acres had been approved earlier.

Benalec estimates the entire development of TPMIP covering 3,487 acres to have a gross development value of RM10bil to RM12bil over the next 15 years.

Leaw said Benalec had been in talks with several potential partners for the first tank storage facility to be set up at TPMIP over the last few months.

“Several parties have shown interests when the land at TPMIP have started to form above water earlier this year,” he said, adding that Benalec wanted to secure a strong brand name for its venture.

If Benalec gets a partner to build the oil storage facilities, it would be the second after Dialog Group Bhd that has started operating its deep-water oil terminal storage facilities at Pengerang last year with Vopak of Netherlands as its partner.

Despite the bearish sentiments on the oil and gas stocks, Leaw is confident that its TPMIP project can lift off due to the stimulated growth from the ongoing Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development project in Pengerang (Rapid) and since its development was the only seafront land left available in the area within the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex.

Leaw also said that they were able to undertake land reclamation works at cheap price, which allowed it to subsequently be competitive.

“We can perform our reclamation works at a relatively lower cost and at a much faster rate due to the closer sand source. This translates to a more competitive final selling price that will attract potential investors,” said Leaw.

The business model, he said, was viable taking into account a large international independent oil storage company that has succeeded over the years within the vicinity of TPMIP project and was now expanding.

With over 15 years of experience in land reclamation works, Leaw reveals that a majority of reclaimed land in Melaka were Benalec’s projects, in which the firm had to fund the reclamation cost from its coffers.

On the RM200mil Benalec recently raised from the issuance of Redeemable Convertible Secured Bonds in April 2015, Leaw said that the convertible bonds was intended to fund reclamation works in respect of lands to be reclaimed for which sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) or letter of awards have been entered into.

“For lands that we reclaim without SPAs in place, the funding would be from our internally generated funds,” he said.

As the TPMIP project was huge, Leaw expected the project to keep Benalec busy for the next 10 to 15 years.

Benalec was faced with a stumbling block last June when its agreement with partners had lapsed and there was no intention to pursue the matter, forcing it to call off its plans to build the petroleum hub in Tanjung Piai.

But it now seems to be braving the tides in this capital-intensive business, despite the mounting financial pressures faced by many oil and gas firms globally.

As of March 31, 2016, Benalec’s operating profit before changes in working capital has increased to RM47.22mil from RM31.26mil.

While TPMIP project’s proximity to Singapore was a plus point, Leaw said the near term target for TPMIP was to capture the spillover demand for oil, gas and petrochemical storage as well as other downstream service activities from multinational corporations (MNCs) operating there and provide a more cost-effective alternative to the firms.

“We understand that the storage terminals in Singapore have in fact been running at close to full capacity, and the current contago market has further fuelled the demand for storage.

“And Singapore currently faces shortage of land for expansion by these firms. Other ways of storage such as the Jurong underground rock caverns and floating structures have been built at high costs to provide solutions to the problem,” said Leaw.

Apart from the current focus of attracting bulk liquid terminal investments into TPMIP since this was already approved under its DEIA, Leaw foresees in the longer term demand for industrial warehousing and logistic services would be huge, as many LPG and LNG firms, and petrochemical storage terminals were likely to develop their businesses at TPMIP.

Oceancove Sdn Bhd is the major shareholder of Benalec, with 47.77% interest. Leaw and his close relatives are directors of Oceancove.

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Malaysia: Johor mulls importing more beef following FMD outbreak

The Star 25 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: With Hari Raya just around the corner, Johor may have to import beef to meet demand, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) among cows in Mersing.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman Ismail Mohamed said this must be done if there was great demand for beef in the next couple of weeks.

The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry has issued permits for the import of beef due to the outbreak and coming festive occasion. The state government has appointed five local suppliers to import the meat, but only if the need arises, Ismail said.

He downplayed worries over FMD, saying not many cows were affected and that the situation was under control.

“Cows in enclosures or in feedlots are healthy and do not show any symptoms of FMD. Only cattle that were roaming tested positive,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Ismail pointed out that in Mersing alone, there were 297 farmers with 14,935 in livestock – 8,708 cows, 3,260 buffaloes, 2,419 sheep and 548 lambs.

The Johor Veterinary Department started vaccinating cows against FMD in nearby Teriang and Endau from June 7.

Further tests by the department found that only 43 cows, belonging to 11 farmers, have the disease at this time.

Ismail said the next step was to find the source of the infection and how it was able to spread.

Livestock farmers in Mersing have told The Star that they could lose tens of thousands of ringgit if people stay away from beef due to the outbreak.

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Indonesia: Java on brink of ecological collapse

Hans Nicholas Jong and Bambang Muryanto The Jakarta Post 24 Jun 16;

Tough mission: Military personnel and search and rescue team members scour debris for victims following a landslide at Kolongan Beha, Sangihe Islands, North Sulawesi, on Thursday. Floods and landslides caused by extreme weather in different locations in the past few days have left three people dead, damaged dozens of houses and affected transportation links.(Antara/Stenly Pontolawokang)

Unruly permit issuance and rapid extractive industry expansion have led to a string of disasters in several parts of Indonesia, particularly in Java, which is on the brink of ecological collapse as most of its forest areas have been converted.

Industrial activities have led to steep forest cover decline in Java, from 15 percent in the early 1990s to 3 percent currently. The deforestation has led to disasters such as flooding and landslides, which have been exacerbated by the recent extreme weather in Indonesia, according to Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) senior researcher Soeryo Adiwibowo.

“On one hand, the size of natural forests and agriculture fields keeps declining. On the other hand, industry, transportation and abandoned fields keep increasing because Java is being converted into an industrial zone even though its ecological burden is already too heavy,” he said.

The biggest culprit is the cement industry, which has grown by eating up the forests of Java. Investors flock to Java because it has more developed infrastructure and a larger labor force than other major islands in Indonesia.

“But the government has to develop outside Java as well right? Until now the growth of the extractive industry, especially cement, has been increasing sharply,” IPB forestry department senior researcher Hariadi Kartodihardjo told The Jakarta Post.

According to Hariadi, due to the massive loss of forests, Java is especially prone to flooding during the rainy season and drought during the dry season.

In 2015, 80 percent of Java’s 118 regencies and municipalities experienced heavy flooding, while 90 percent suffered from prolonged drought.

“The loss of vegetation is causing a dramatic gap between the dry season and rainy season. During the dry season, there is no water catchment and soil dries fast. On the other hand, water cannot be contained during the rainy season because there is no vegetation,” said Hariadi.

Regional governments have contributed significantly to the loss of forest coverage in Java by issuing regulations that benefit the extractive industry. IPB data said that between 2007 and 2008, at least 122 of the 278 bylaws passed by local governments in Java made it easy for companies to exploit natural resources.

“But now the Home Ministry is revoking regional regulations that hinder investment, not regulations that are destroying the environment and supporting the extractive industry. It means the government only thinks of the economy and not the environment,” Hariadi said.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said regional governments should also improve their spatial planning.

“Ecological disasters like these are also related to spatial planning. Sustainable spatial planning already takes water conservation into account. It shows that the role of regional governments is huge,” she said.

Extreme weather has been especially deadly this year, with heavy rains hitting parts of Indonesia during an abnormally wet dry season. As of Thursday, 56 people had been killed due to flooding and landslides in Central Java alone, with nine people still missing.

Purworejo regency was hit the heaviest, with 42 people dead and six people missing. A search and rescue (SAR) mission is still ongoing, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“Around 300 SAR personnel are being deployed to look for the missing victims. Yesterday, the police deployed dogs but since there were many people watching the landslide, it created difficulties in the field,” he said.

Two villages in Purworejo; Sudimoro and Tlogorejo, were still isolated after a flood and landslide blocked road access to the areas.

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