June 4, 2018 / 6:23 AM / in 19 days

Malaysia's Petronas seeks court declaration on its ownership of petroleum resources

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Berhad [PETR.UL], or Petronas, has filed a court application to declare its exclusive ownership of the country’s petroleum resources, following a move by the state of Sarawak to take a more active interest in local resources.

The national oil company said in a statement on Monday that it was seeking a federal court declaration of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), the law applicable for the petroleum industry in Malaysia.

The application was also to declare that Petronas, in line with the PDA, is the exclusive owner of the petroleum resources and the regulator for the upstream industry throughout Malaysia, including in Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states in Borneo.

The company said it believed the court determination “would help provide clarity on its rights and position under the (law)”.

“Petronas remains committed to support Sarawak’s aspiration to participate in the oil and gas industry in the state, for as long as it is within the framework of the PDA,” it said.

The Sarawak state government in March asserted its right to its oil resources and was set to assume full regulatory authority for the upstream and downstream industries in the oil and gas-rich state from July, local media reported.

Last year, the state government formed an oil and gas company, Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) for the purpose of taking over regulatory control of petroleum resources in Sarawak.

A significant contributor to Malaysia’s revenue and the country’s largest employer, Petronas may provide the government up to $2.3 billion more in taxes and dividends this year, a finance ministry official said last week, as firmer oil prices boost profits at the state energy firm.

(This version of the story corrects spelling of company name in first paragraph.)

Reporting by Liz Lee; editing by Richard Pullin

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