23/01/2008 (Daily Express, East Malaysia), Kota Kinabalu - Sabah is seeking RM1 billion from the Federal Government for continued development of the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu over the next 18 years as part of the Sabah Development Corridor programme.
The POIC project, which has been receiving much federal support, is expected to be able to continue its quick pace of development when it comes under the National Implementation Task Force.
Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin said that under the SDC that will be unveiled on Jan. 29, the POIC Lahad Datu will be playing a pivotal role in promoting downstream of palm oil processing industries.
"It will be also a catalyst for further expansion of Sabah's oil palm sector," he said.
It is envisaged that during the SDC 18-year period from now until 2025, the POIC Lahad Datu will attract about RM9 billion in investments and generate more than 8,000 jobs.
Since the Ministry of Industrial Development press conference in 2006, he said the POIC has undergone much progress. "The entire project has been on schedule and on budget. The number of investors has also grown from 10 in 2006 to 17, last year, he said, adding that investment value increased from RM1b to RM1.78b.
All of the basic infrastructure in POIC Lahad Datu has either been completed or is nearing completion.
"Roads within the 1,150 acre Phase 1 and Phase II POIC have also been completed at a total cost of RM510 million," he said. Street lights have been installed while water supply from two million gallon storage tanks is ready to be utilised. Electricity is being supplied via the Sabah Electricity grid.
Ewon said two factories commenced with their respective operations last year, namely the SPC Biodiesel and Global Biodiesel.
The output capacity of the two entities is 300,000 tonnes per year, he said.
The major signing last year was the sale and purchase agreement with Eco Biomass Energy Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Seoul-based Eco Frontier Co, which is one of the world's leading proponents of renewable energy production.
"The company will invest up to RM350m to erect the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at the POIC Lahad Datu to produce electricity and steam by using oil palm biomass such as empty fruit bunches and oil palm fronds."
The plant, Ewon said, would not only put POIC Lahad Datu on the global map of Clean Development mechanism (which is sponsored by the UN), but also ensure power supply needs of future investors.
The central steam supply system is the first of its kind in Malaysia that will help to lower investment cost of other investors who need not have to put up their individual steam generation system.
Another component of advance infrastructure is the bulking installation that provides storage facilities for incoming feedstock like crude palm oil and outgoing products such as biodiesel.
Ewon said that the investment is expected to be RM510m.