Other than the start of Ramadhan, the Malaysian Independence month (yes, the flags have already been hung at home, probably the first house in the neighbourhood who has the flags up), there is another memorable celebration for us in the upstream EP (exploration and production) business in the red-yellow pecten oil & gas company. For us lot in KL, the celebration is not as grand as in Miri, where the history all began..
I myself started my career in this business in Miri before transferring to KL to venture in the high profile deepwater project, which is the first for Malaysia for this company. So I understand the truth when people say that “in Miri, almost everyone living there is either working for Shell or related to someone working in Shell”.. Some of my friends from Miri are 3rd generation Shell staff whereby their parents and their grandparents used to work for this company. This is not a norm anywhere else in the country, so it is quite unique. Coincidentally even in my immediate family we have 3 members working for this multinational company, there’s colleagues who joke that perhaps one day my son will also be working for this business.
If anyone out there is wondering how Malaysia started to venture into oil and gas, well here’s a little history (that I have extracted from the PC Sign-On screen…)
It was exactly a century ago, on August 10, 1910, that a group of curious local inhabitants of Miri in Sarawak gathered on top of the hill overlooking the small fishing village. Back then, Miri consisted of 20 scattered houses and a few shops.
The villagers were watching a small party of Shell employees and thirty local labourers undertake the slow and laborious task of drilling by the old cable tool method, first used in AD 421 by the Chinese to extract salt. While the occasion was cause for great interest, none of the onlookers could have realised what tremendous consequences the event would have for Sarawak.
Four months later oil was struck at a depth of 136 metres and brought into production. The wooden derrick, erected at 79m above sea level, began to produce an initial 83 barrels a day. The well was Miri Well No. 1 – which came to be called the “Grand Old Lady” - on top of Canada Hill. The company was the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, forerunner of Sarawak Shell Berhad and part of the Shell Group of Companies formed in 1907.
As the birthplace of the nation’s petroleum industry, Miri would be transformed by the landmark event into one of Sarawak’s most developed towns post-independence. In the course of the last 100 years of upstream business, Shell has recorded remarkable achievements in the development of oil and gas resources in Malaysia. Contributing capital, advanced technology and skilled human resource to the country, these achievements are milestones that the company continues to be proud of today.
Today, Shell operates as upstream contractors to Petronas after the national oil company was established to look after the nation's hydrocarbon resources in 1974. Since the signing of the first production sharing contracts in 1976, Shell has continued to achieve firsts in Sarawak, among them the development of E11, the country’s first gas field in 1982. The company also started Shell MDS, the world’s first commercial gas-to-liquids plant of its kind in Bintulu in 1993.
The 100-year journey would not have been possible without the support of the community it operates in. In giving back to society, Shell has implemented a diverse range of events, projects and programmes - commencing with the construction of the Miri-Lutong road and the Miri hospital in the early part of the 20th century - which evolved into today’s corporate social responsibility initiatives in human capital development, educational excellence, sustainable development and road safety awareness. Flagship programmes include the Shell Scholarship Awards, Project Link (a coded welder training programme), the Shell Traffic Games, Nature Education Camps and the Shell Kenyalang Press Awards. Through its signature “We Care We Share” programme, the company funds staff volunteerism for community projects in areas of large operations such as Miri and Bintulu.
As Shell celebrates the centenary of the “Grand Old Lady” and its first hundred years of upstream operations in Malaysia, it looks forward to the next 100 years of powering progress together with its partners and the community, confident that its second century will be just as memorable, exciting and successful.