Safety Assurance On Sarawak HEP

Kuching, 10 June 2015:  Sarawak Energy can assure the people of Sarawak that the company’s hydropower projects (HEPs) are designed according to the highest international technical standards for dam design.

Specifically, our hydropower projects are designed in accordance to guidelines established by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), an international body set up in 1928 to share knowledge, and set standards and guidelines to ensure that dams are built and operated safely. These guidelines are also used to ensure dam safety worldwide and also in the so-called “seismically active” regions of the world such as the Himalayas and Japan.

Although located in an area of low seismic activity, our dams in Sarawak (including Batang Ai, Bakun, Murum, Baram and Baleh) are designed to withstand earthquakes of significantly larger magnitudes than the recent one in Sabah that led to such a tragic loss of lives.


As part of the preparatory works, detailed geological investigations and studies are conducted at various stages of hydro project development from the initial pre-feasibility study, feasibility study, tender design and detailed design.

Investigations for each dam project include the identification of any fault lines or shear zones in the area.  A suitable dam site is only finalised after taking into account all the results of the geological site investigations, which include mapping and ground investigations.


For seismic hazard assessment, Sarawak Energy appointed an Australian institute (Seismological Research Centre, Victoria) in 2009 to conduct a seismological study addressing deep seismic activity in the region. These have been incorporated in HEP development in Sarawak.

Project-specific seismic hazard assessment studies are also planned as part of the final design process. This is to determine the potential of earthquake events occurring within a specific range from the project site. These will be conducted before the final design and construction of the projects.

In view of the recent earthquake in Sabah, Sarawak Energy will ensure this latest information is included in the project specific studies and the results will be incorporated into the final design of the projects.


The selection of the site for the Baram HEP was made after taking into consideration all the investigations and studies conducted in pre-feasibility and feasibility studies including potential seismic hazards.

For the purpose of clarification, localised seismic survey was undertaken at the planning stage of the Baram dam project to investigate subsurface conditions and select a suitable site. This is followed by borehole drilling in feasibility stage to build on this geological knowledge of the site.

During the next phase of the project, additional borehole drilling will be undertaken to further ensure the integrity of the dam design. Unfortunately this ground investigation has been disrupted by protestors at the site.

With this level of due diligence and the data yielded from boreholes so far, no more seismic surveys are deemed necessary for the site.


Sarawak applies the highest level of rigour and due diligence in the development of all our hydroelectric projects to ensure their integrity and safety.