[Borneo Bulletin, reporting by Hakim Hayat on July 11, 2017]
POLITEKNIK Brunei marked another milestone when it forged its first international partnership with Singaporean oil and gas industry training provider PetroEDGE to provide internship, career and networking opportunities for Politeknik Brunei’s students and lecturers.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Politeknik Brunei and Singapore’s Asia Edge Pte Ltd, the holding company of PetroEDGE and also NrgEdge Pte Ltd, a professional networking platform for the energy industry, at a ceremony held at Politektnik Brunei in Jalan Ong Sum Ping in the capital yesterday.
The guest of honour was Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, the Minister of Education.
The MoU was aimed at establishing a formal collaboration and cooperation for training opportunities and access to the online platform created by Asia Edge Pte Ltd and NrgEdge Pte Ltd for the mutual benefit in training students. The collaboration hopes to provide worldwide internship opportunities for Politeknik Brunei students to apply and also to encourage career and growth opportunities outside Brunei.
This collaboration will allow Politeknik Brunei students and lecturers to network with various worldwide recognised industries in seeking jobs as well as participating in online forums and discussions, looking into digital technical learning through the company’s dedicated learning platform at www.nrgedge.net/learning.
Politeknik Brunei Director, Denis Ho Mun Tai in his speech said the realisation of the collaboration reflects their commitment towards continuously improving the relevancy and effectiveness of the teaching and learning provided to the students.
“The blended platform provided by PetroEDGE and NrgEdge blends well with the innovative teaching and learning process desired by Politeknik Brunei which is aimed at promoting the continuous use of technology in teaching and learning via eLearning and Virtual Reality platforms,” he added.
Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, the Minister of Education (C) witnessing the signing of the MoU between Politeknik Brunei represented by its Director, Denis Ho Mun Tai and Anas Asalem, Growth and Partnership Specialist of NrgEdge Pte Ltd, Singapore. –
In further establishing this collaboration and cooperation, two students from Politeknik Brunei’s Diploma in Petroleum Engineering programme were elected as NrgEdge student ambassadors and they will act as point of contacts between students and NrgEdge.
Asia Edge Pte Ltd envisions blended learning by having both traditional and digital learning onboard and currently has about 50,000 user activity in its network, which is available on mobile applications and through its dedicated website.
NrgEdge in a press release expressed hope that with their presence in Politeknik Brunei, students can explore the energy world beyond this region as NrgEdge cares about their network, career and journey through the path of the energy industry.
NrgEdge added that the ambassador aims to encourage students to volunteer and learn networking skills while being a student. Their role will be as a campus influencer for NrgEdge and also channelling information about the energy industry to their friends. With the fluctuating phenomenon of the industry, NrgEdge Ambassador Programme promotes soft skills development where student will benefit from their onsite volunteering opportunities at NrgEdge booth, networking events, speaking engagements session and also premium career coaching for their future undertakings with their internal talent advisor faculty.
Signing on behalf of Politeknik Brunei was its Director while Asia Edge Pte Ltd and NrgEdge Pte Ltd, Singapore was represented by its Director, Malina Raman. Witnessing the signing were Alias bin Haji Abu Bakar, Acting Assistant Director of Politeknik Brunei and Anas Asalem, Growth and Partnership Specialist of NrgEdge Pte Ltd, Singapore.
Also present during the signing ceremony was Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar, Deputy Minister of Education as well as other senior officials from the Ministry of Education.
[This article was first published on Borneo Bulletin on July 11, 2017]
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On 10 December 2021, if all goes to plan Royal Dutch Shell will become just Shell. The energy supermajor will move its headquarters from The Hague in The Netherlands to London, UK. At least three-quarters of the company’s shareholders must vote in favour of the change at the upcoming general meeting, which has been sold by Shell as a means of simplifying its corporate structure and better return value to shareholders, as well as be ‘better positioned to seize opportunities and play a leading role in the energy transition’. In doing so, it will no longer meet Dutch conditions for ‘royal’ designation, dropping a moniker that has defined the company through decades of evolution since 1907.
But why this and why now?
There is a complex web of reasons why, some internal and some external but the ultimate reason boils down to improving growth sustainability. Royal Dutch Shell was born through the merger of Shell Transport and Trading Company (based in the UK) and Royal Dutch (based in The Netherlands) in 1907, with both companies engaging in exploration activities ranging from seashells to crude oil. Unified across international borders, Royal Dutch Shell emerged as Europe’s answer to John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil empire, as the race to exploit oil (and later natural gas) reserves spilled out over the world. Along the way, Royal Dutch Shell chalked up a number of achievements including establishing the iconic Brent field in the North Sea to striking the first commercial oil in Nigeria. Unlike Standard Oil which was dissolved into 34 smaller companies in 1911, Royal Dutch Shell remained intact, operating as two entities until 2005, when they were finally combined in a dual-nationality structure: incorporated in the UK, but residing in the Netherlands. This managed to satisfy the national claims both countries make on the supermajor, second only to ExxonMobil in revenue and profits but proved to be costly to maintain. In 2020, fellow Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever also ditched its dual structure, opting to be based fully out of the City of London. In that sense, Shell is following the direction of the wind, as forces in its (soon to be former) home country turn sour.
There is a specific grievance that Royal Dutch Shell has with the Dutch government, the 15% dividend tax collected for Dutch-domiciled companies. It is the reason why Unilever abandoned Rotterdam and is now the reason why Shell is abandoning The Hague. And this point is particularly existentialist for Shell, since its share prices has been battered in recent years following the industry downturn since 2015, the global pandemic and being in the crosshairs of climate change activists as an emblem of why the world’s average temperatures are going haywire. The latter has already caused the largest Dutch state pension fund ABP to stop investing in fossil fuels, thereby divesting itself of Royal Dutch Shell. This was largely a symbolic move, but as religious figures will know, symbols themselves carry much power. To combat this, Shell has done two things. First, it has positioned itself to be at the forefront of energy transition, announcing ambitious emissions reductions plans in line with its European counterparts to become carbon neutral by 2050. Second, it is looking to bump up its dividend payouts after slashing them through the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic and accelerating share buybacks to remain the bluest of blue-chip stocks. But then, earlier this year, a Dutch court ruled that Shell’s emissions targets were ‘not ambitious enough’, ordering a stricter aim within a tighter timeframe. And the 15% dividend tax remains – even though Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government has been attempting to scrap it, with (it is presumed) some lobbying from Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever.
As simplistic it is to think that Shell is leaving for London believes the citizens of the Netherlands has turned its back on the company, the ultimate reason was the dividend tax. Reportedly, CEO Ben van Buerden called up Mark Rutte on Sunday informing him of the planned move. Rutte’s reaction, it is said was of dismay. And he embarked on a last-ditch effort to persuade Royal Dutch Shell to change its mind, by immediately lobbying his government’s coalition partners to back an abolition of the dividend tax. The reaction was perhaps not what he expected, with left-wing and green parties calling Shell’s threat ‘blackmail’. With democracy drawing a line, Shell decided to walk; or at least present an exit plan endorsed by its Board to be voted by shareholders. Many in the Netherlands see Shell’s exit and the loss of the moniker Royal Dutch – as a blow to national pride, especially since the country has been basking in the glow of expanded reputation as a result of post-Brexit migration of financial activities to Amsterdam from London. The UK, on the other hand, sees Shell’s decision and Unilever’s – as an endorsement of the country’s post-Brexit potential.
The move, if passed and in its initial stages, will be mainly structural, transferring the tax residence of Shell to London. Just ten top executives including van Buerden and CFO Jessica Uhl will be making the move to London. Three major arms – Projects and Technology, Global Upstream and Integrated Gas and Renewable Energies – will remain in The Hague. As will Shell’s massive physical reach on Dutch soil: the huge integrated refinery in Pernis, the biofuels hub in Rotterdam, the country’s first offshore wind farm and the mammoth Porthos carbon capture project that will funnel emissions from Rotterdam to be stored in empty North Sea gas fields. And Shell’s troubles with activists will still continue. British climate change activists are as, if not more aggressive as their Dutch counterpart, this being the country where Extinction Rebellion was born. Perhaps more of a threat is activist investor Third Point, which recently acquired a chunk of Shell shares and has been advocating splitting the company into two – a legacy business for fossil fuels and a futures-focused business for renewables.
So Shell’s business remains, even though its address has changed. In the grand scheme of things, never mind the small matter of Dutch national pride – Royal Dutch Shell’s roadmap to remain an investment icon and a major driver of energy transition will continue in its current form. This is a quibble about money or rather, tax – that will have little to no impact on Shell’s operations or on its ambitions. Royal Dutch Shell is poised to become just Shell. Different name and a different house, but the same contents. Unless, of course, Queen Elizabeth II decides to provide royal assent, in which case, Shell might one day become Royal British Shell.
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