What impacts has the recent local business development (LBD) framework had on domestic companies in the energy sector? SUPNA KARWANAMURTHI: The recent implementation of the LBD framework by the Energy Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO) has been a major success in that it has assisted in eliminating monopolies within the oil and gas industry, thus creating a fair and even playing field for all companies in the sector. This has tremendously assisted genuine local entrepreneurs in stepping up to the call from the EDPMO and creating a healthier and more competitive economy for Brunei Darussalam as a whole.
Another positive outcome from the framework is that both Bumiputeras and local Bruneians will have a fair chance to bid for tenders and be awarded contracts in the oil and gas industry. With the LBD framework now in place, companies have to think about what they can do to contribute to the development of the nation, besides making a profit. In this regard, the framework will serve to strengthen the sector and ensure its sustainability in the future.
What strategies are oil and gas companies pursuing in order to work towards the production targets set out by the Energy White Paper? SUPNA:We, as oil and gas support services companies, are ready to assist our clients in maintaining and increasing production levels, and two major assets are crucial to achieving this goal – human capital and innovative technology.
A long-term contract must be in place for local companies to have the incentive to invest in both of these assets and to have the ability to grow steadily, while also assisting the EPDMO in achieving the targets of the Energy White Paper.
As such, the EDPMO has been actively involved in the tendering processes for oil and gas operators, to ensure that long-term contracts are awarded to local entrepreneurs that can help achieve the national vision of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
What is the importance of partnerships between local and international players, and what forms of knowledge transfer can these types partnerships provide? SUPNA:Partnerships between local and international players can be beneficial to all parties involved, and it is particularly important for Bruneian companies to do what we have committed to contractually when it comes to technology transfer. The Bruneian firm needs to act as a sponge to learn the technical and corporate knowledge that the international partner brings to the table, while also ensuring that a learning plan is put in place and is followed through with thoroughly. Once this is done and the international partner exits the country, the Bruneian companies will have all the knowledge that is needed to be self-sustainable and the capacity to expand to international markets with the knowledge they have gained.