• Leaders hail joint development of offshore fields as ‘significant milestone’

• Two-chop land travel between countries mulled

• Malaysia invites Brunei to join Trilateral Maritime Patrol to combat piracy, terrorism

Brunei and Malaysia today formally agreed to jointly develop four oil and gas fields along the common maritime boundary in the South China Sea.

The two countries signed a ‘Unitisation Framework Agreement’ for four oil fields: Kinabalu West NAG; Maharajalela North; Gumusut/Kakap; and Geronggong/Jagus-East.

According to a Bernama report, the agreement means the license holders will decide on the division of revenue by mid-2018, following several years of negotiations.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak welcomed the agreement as a “significant milestone”, following their annual leaders consultation (ALC) at Istana Nurul Iman this morning.

In a joint statement, the leaders said progress had also been made by PetroleumBRUNEI and PETRONAS in the the offshore Blocks CA1 and CA2, and in production sharing of Block N.

During the meeting His Majesty invited Malaysia to invest in Brunei’s FDI clusters such as the halal industry, innovative technology and creative industry, business services, tourism and downstream oil and gas activities.

TOURISM

The New Straits Times reported that His Majesty and the Prime Minister also discussed simplifying the immigration process for land travel between the Brunei and Malaysia, with only one stamp for entering and exiting each country.

A motorist driving from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kota Kinabalu in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah requires seven immigration chops for a one-way trip.

“We have discussed this for a long time and both parties agreed to settle this before the next ALC,” Najib said during a press conference. “We will propose a system that is easily applicable but still has security features required, in order to ease the movement of Malaysians to Brunei and vice versa.”

The prime minister noted that Brunei had also responded positively to Malaysia’s proposal of a new route connecting Bandar Seri Begawan to Limbang, Sarawak.

“This new route will minimise travelling time but we will also maintain the existing route to Miri… the Sultan of Brunei is looking forward to the Pan Borneo Highway completion,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Paduka Hj Jamain Hj Julaihi (seated R), and Vice President, Malaysia Petroleum Management, PETRONAS, Muhammad Zamri Jusoh (seated L), sign the Unitisation Framework Agreement at Istana Nurul Iman on Nov 23. Photo: Infofoto

The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on tourism at Istana Nurul Iman, aimed at forging closer cooperation.

The Malaysian High Commissioner Datuk Ghulam Jelani Khanizama said Bruneian visitors to Malaysia will reach at least 1.5 million by the end of 2017, surpassing last year’s record of 1.4 million.

“The ties between both nations have been at their best in all fields. [In] terms of tourism, Bruneians are the fifth biggest contributor of visitors to our country annually.”

Malaysians also represent the largest source of tourists for Brunei, representing 22 per cent of the market.

DEMARCATION OF BORDER

A joint demarcation survey is still being carried out by both countries to determine the formal land and maritime boundaries between Brunei and Malaysia.

After the signing of the Exchange of Letters in 2009, a technical team was formed to survey the border for demarcation, in a bid to end all territorial disputes between the two countries.

Najib said only six per cent of the boundary had been surveyed with about 528km left. The problem was lack of manpower on the ground, which had to be increased.

DEFENCE 

When speaking to Malaysian media, the prime minister said he had invited Brunei to become a full partner in the Trilateral Maritime Patrol and Trilateral Air Patrol conducted by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in the Sulu Sea, aimed at combating piracy, terrorism and fighting militants’ presence in the region. 

Brunei currently holds observer status.

“I hope Brunei will consider becoming a full partner in this effort, which they say they will consider,” Najib added.