The Star, Photo Credit to The Star
clock 08-07-2019
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Sarawak Energy Set to Export Electricity to Sabah by 2022

Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) expects to export electricity to Sabah by 2022 and Brunei Darussalam sooner under the Trans-Borneo Grid project.

Group chief executive officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili said SEB is awaiting the approval of the Sabah government for the final draft of a power purchase agreement (PPA).

The PPA will pave the way for the export of 50MW initially from Lawas in northern Sarawak to Sipitang in Sabah.

“But we can export more when required,” Sharbini added at SEB’s annual media business update here yesterday.

He said SEB can only export power to Sabah upon completion of its “Northern Agenda” to connect both Limbang and Lawas to the state grid. The project, which is currently underway, will replace SEB’s diesel plants in northern Sarawak.

Under the Northern Agenda, SEB will beef up power supply, reduce power interruptions and enhance supply reliability in Miri.

According to Sharbini, a RM1bil allocation to upgrade Miri’s power supply system has been carried out since 2016.

He said a border SEB substation in Miri is ready to export electricity to neighbouring Brunei and that the PPA could be signed when Brunei is ready. Initially, SEB may export 30MW to the oil-rich sultanate.

Last week, Sharbini met with Brunei’s Energy Minister to discuss the Borneo Grid project.

“We (SEB) want to drive the Borneo Grid project. That is our ambition,” he said.

SEB has been exporting power to west Kalimantan, Indonesia since 2016 under an agreement with Perusahaan Listrik Negara Persero (Indonesian utility body) and the current export has reached 230MW.

Sharbini said SEB’s installed capacity is expected to increase to 5,450MW next year from 4,705MW in 2015. The additional power-generation capacity will come from the 600MW Balingian coal-fired plant to be commissioned later this year and the proposed combined cycle gas plant under construction in Tanjong Kidurong, Bintulu.

SEB owns the 2,400MW Bakun hydro-electric dam and 944MW Murum dam, which are both in full operation to supply power to the energy-intensive industries in Samalaju Industrial Park under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).

Hydro power currently makes up about 75% of SEB’s generation mix, followed by gas and coal.

SEB is currently constructing the 1,285MW Baleh dam in the Kapit Division which is expected to come on stream by 2025 when its generation capacity would be raised to 7,115MW.

“In the past nine years, the average power demand from Score’s customers has increased by three times while our generation capacity has increased by 3.5 times,” said Sharbini.

Executive vice-president for strategic and corporate development Ting Ching Zung said SEB is currently in negotiations with several potential investors planning to set up manufacturing facilities in Samalaju Industrial Park. They would require 240MW to 440MW to power their plants.

One of the investors from China plans to set up an integrated steel mill there via its Malaysian unit, Wenan Steel Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

“Right now, we (SEB and Wenan Steel) have agreed on the commercial terms of the PPA. The steel mill requires between 30MW and 40MW of power under phase 1,” said Ting, who expects the proposed steel mill project to take three years to build.

“We are also in discussions with two (potential) new customers for power requirements of between 100MW and 200MW each for their ferroalloy smelting projects.”

Currently, there are three ferroalloy smelting plants in Samalaju Industrial Park.

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