‘US$20b Kedah oil complex project in limbo’

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 12, 2017.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The plan to build a US$20 billion (RM84.4 billion) oil refinery complex in Yan, Kedah may have come to an end, as the sole investment licence granted to Merapoh Resources Sdn Bhd to implement the project has expired, and subsequently withdrawn by the authorities, said sources familiar with the matter.

The sources said the withdrawal of the licence by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) was after “so many extensions”. It was revoked when Merapoh Resources was wound up by the High Court on April 25, 2016, and liquidated by the insolvency department on grounds of bankruptcy.

“You can ask Mida how many times it has renewed the licence to build the refinery complex? And who says the project has received a go-ahead, when it has not even received any approval from Invest Kedah Bhd,” a source who declined to be identified told The Edge Financial Daily. “Now that the licence is expired, do you think it would be easy to get it back, given the poor credentials?,” the source added. “The project is as good as retired.”

When contacted, Mida and Invest Kedah declined to comment.

Proposed to be named as the Sultan Abdul Halim Refinery Complex, the project was mooted in 2007 by Merapoh Resources, as another attempt to revive the Yan Industrial Petroleum Project. Merapoh Resources was owned by Petrobanq Sdn Bhd, a dormant firm of its executive chairman Md Nazri Ramli.

After multiple failed attempts, Merapoh Resources — together with Petrobanq, as well as all refinery licences and permits — were acquired by KPHUB Sdn Bhd, an abbreviation of Konsortium PetroHub.

KPHUB declined to comment immediately on the mega project’s status, only to say “it will issue a statement at a later time.”

KPHUB counts IMC London — a group of UK-based bankers — as the largest shareholder with a 50% stake, followed by VR4U Power Sdn Bhd (30%) and an unidentified Malaysian entity (20%). A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia reveals VR4U Power is owned by Raja Yasmin Baizura Raja Ahmad Azizan of Perak and Tunku Nawar Tunku Sulong of Negeri Sembilan.

KPHUB is said to have wanted  to build a multi-crude oil complex able to refine one million barrels of oil per day, which will be imported from the Middle East and Asia before exporting to China. The project was also said to include a 320km oil pipeline from Yan in Kedah to Bachok in Kelantan, as well as a 50km pipeline to transport oil from Kuala Jerlun to Bukit Kayu Hitam.

KPHUB had also said it intends to build 100,000 units of middle- and upper-class homes, a tank farm, marine facilities and a heavy industrial area, together with a high-speed rail logistics network for cargo.

 KPHUB had reportedly awarded the turnkey contract to a consortium led by China-based Hainan Zhenrong Energy Co Ltd, in which the London-based bankers will assist to mobilise nearly US$20 billion to the contractors, suppliers, planners and related parties.