Petronas set to complete $235m water project

A view of the new Sungai Seluyut dam near Kota Tinggi, which is part of the water supply project. The project will be completed in two months and it comes amid concern in Johor about the state's high water consumption.
A view of the new Sungai Seluyut dam near Kota Tinggi, which is part of the water supply project. The project will be completed in two months and it comes amid concern in Johor about the state's high water consumption.ST PHOTO: REME AHMAD

Supply to be used for petroleum facility in Johor, with 20% assigned for public

Malaysia's national oil company Petronas is completing a RM700 million (S$235 million) water-supply project in two months' time to secure sufficient water for a massive petroleum complex being built in Pengerang in south-east Johor.

The dam and reservoir project near Kota Tinggi town will also alleviate a "water crisis" for some 100,000 residents in the Kota Tinggi and Pengerang districts, as some 20 per cent of the water collected at the new Sungai Seluyut reservoir will be for public use, officials said yesterday.

The project's imminent completion comes amid concern in Johor about its high water consumption due to rapid industrialisation and climate change that has lowered reservoir levels.

Johor state secretary Ismail Karim, who launched the project's initial transfer of water to the south yesterday, said climate change has reduced rainfall in Pengerang to 1,600mm annually last year, from 3,000mm in 2011.

"Pengerang folks could bathe only once every two days lately," he joked. "This project is part of the government effort to resolve the people's problems."

The dam and reservoir project near Kota Tinggi town will also alleviate a "water crisis" for some 100,000 residents in the Kota Tinggi and Pengerang districts.

Early this month, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to "institute regular exchanges" to address concerns over water supply caused by low rainfall in recent months.

Singapore's Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said together with its Malaysian counterpart it will monitor and implement measures to mitigate concerns over falling water levels in Johor's Linggiu reservoir. This reservoir is where Singapore draws most of its water from. Low rainfall saw its water level drop to a record low of 43 per cent last November.

The high consumption of water by the 3.5 million people of Johor was mentioned by State Executive Councillor for Works, Regional and Rural Development Hasni Mohammad. He said Johoreans use an average of 220 litres a day.

In comparison, water consumption in Singapore was 155 litres a day, 150 litres in Britain and 130 litres in Hong Kong, Datuk Hasni said last November.

The Petronas project, called the Raw Water Supply Project or Pamer using its Malay initials, will help people in south-east Johor overcome their parched conditions.

The new dam will eventually supply 260 million litres a day (MLD) to Pengerang. Of this, 40 to 60 MLD will flow into the Sungai Lebam reservoir for treatment, before being piped into homes and industries, said Pamer's project director Syed Mohd Kamal Syed Abd Rahman.

But the main user of the water will be the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) being built by Petronas to ride on Singapore's position as an international oil hub by taking on spillover from Singapore.

The US$16 billion (S$22 billion) Rapid might be scaled down due to global weakness in oil prices, Petronas president and group chief executive Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said last month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Petronas set to complete $235m water project'. Print Edition | Subscribe