Brunei, located in the northern Borneo, is one of the last remaining Sultanate government in South East Asia. It is also one of the three governments in the world ruled by monarchies under a dynasty claiming descent from Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Brunei, despite relatively small size comparing to its neighbouring Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, has more to offer to unhurried visitors, in term of natural landscapes — unspoiled forests, rivers and beaches.
One of major towns in Brunei is Seria, known as a town built by oil industry. Shell is a major player being here more than 100 years. I had opportunity to stop by this oil town in November 2010 while enroute Bandar Seri Begawan from Miri, Sarawak. Read on below for another story of the road, this time Brunei. Pictures quality may not be that good as I was using camera phone only, i.e. SE Xperia X10 with 8.1 megapixels camera, still running on Android 1.6 despite many failed attempts to upgrade to 2.1.
Shell (Brunei Shell) and Seria are inseparable. Shell’s influence in Seria town is very noticeble and everywhere from petrol station to crude oil terminals to huge refinery. The first oil discovery onshore was made in 1929 and in fact the whole Seria town sits on what is called Seria oil field. The old way of producing oil using mechanical “donkeys” to pump up the oil from underground is still in practise. You can still see these “donkeys” at work around Seria town nowadays. White men probably expatiates working with Brunei Shell can be seen on town streets wandering around in search of night entertainment, which is scarce in this deeply religious country. You could not be wrong if you say that the town exists because of Shell. There is a main road cutting across the town and leading to an oil refinery and oil terminals and other facilities at one end. The town streets are in grid formation and very easy to navigate, if you know where you are going to. The roads are well marked. The town center is dotted with rows of shoplots where you can find banks, restaurants including Jollibee fast food outlet (Brunei’s version of McDonalds or KFC) and many retail outlets selling Chinese junk stuff and hardwares. There is one 3-storey shopping center behind Jollibee. A small taxi and bus terminal is nearby, where buses going to BBS and Kuala Belait can be found. BTW Seria is a town in the district of Kuala Belait. If you are interested in knowing more about how Shell discovered and developed oil reserve in Brunei, a visit to OGDC is a must. Check visiting hours first.
Places to visit in Seria:
1. Oil & Gas Discovery Center (OGDC)
2. Oil & gas facilities (including oil refinery)
3. Town center
4. Masjid Pekan Seria
How to get here?
Seria is about 100 km to the west of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. From Miri (Malaysia), it is about 40 kms.
There are many ways to get here. One way is to fly to Miri, Sarawak, cross Malaysia/Brunei at Sungai Tujuh checkpoint and drive up to Seria on the way to BBS. ANother way is to fly direct to BBS and take road trip to Seria.