Over the last two decades the Malaysian petroleum industry has been a remarkable example of meeting the challenge of development. The industry has grown into an integrated business, with infrastructure facilities and projects comparable to those of developed nations. Most significantly it has spawned a whole range of spin off industries which are increasingly sourced by local production and local skills.

The ability of the Malaysian industry to attract inward investment is a positive indication of the development it has achieved and the future potential it has acquired. Hosting this conference is another important signifier of the next phase of consolidation and expansion. Regional co-operation has been actively pursued and has yielded encouraging results. The development arrangement for the overlapping Joint Development Area involving Thailand and Malaysia, is the first of its kind in the world, has been designed to generate maximum benefits for both nations. Its a notable example of how our future can be planned and shaped.

There are excellent opportunities for increased trade and additional investment in the industry within this dynamic region, particularly in Malaysia. For instance the opening of our relatively unexplored deepwater blocks calls for high, capital intensive investment and superior technological capabilities in its exploration and development. The returns from such higher risk venture can be expected to be very rewarding. The Asia Pacific region is the most vibrant economic zone on the face of the globe, with rapidly expanding economic prospects in which energy requirements play a vital role for the future sustainability of our economic growth, productivity and competitiveness.

We expect the petroleum and natural gas industry to play its part in the increasing integration of the economic potential of this region. Alongside this the Malaysian government will continue to provide the necessary infrastructure and support to enable it to become globally competitive. Initiatives to create a favourable environment for continuous growth and investment will continue to be pursued. In keeping with the maturing of the Malaysian economy we expect the vital sectors of our industrial base to fit themselves to make the necessary qualitative shift from investment driven growth to productivity driven growth. This will require new kinds of strategic thinking in managing and organising resources.

We have given serious attention to developing our abundant natural gas reserve, placing the emphasis on value added projects. This led to the implementation of several gas based petrochemical projects, as well as others to optimise the utilisation of this cheaper and cleaner energy source.

The true measure of sustainable development is to realise both the sound economic rationale as well as the social benefit that will accrue from investing in a knowledge base and outlook that will enable our society to place itself at the forefront of future needs.

Malaysia sought to become a developed nation to meet the rightful aspirations of its people to a better life. Qualitative development is not the aspiration of only one generation, but of all generations. Your industry is one of the most crucial sectors that must make innovative and imaginative contributions to change if future generations are to realise real benefits at a much higher quality of life. To prepare yourself to be pioneers in meeting that challenge is the most rewarding economic strategy for future success in hard currency and social utility.

We in Asia must realise that we have not sought development just to join the common inheritance of developed world problems. We become developed by seeking solutions and contributing to qualitative change.

Thank you