Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) is Malaysia ‘s national petroleum company. Over the years, it has become a fully-integrated oil and gas corporation with operations in more than 30 countries worldwide. It is ranked among Fortune Global 500’s largest corporations in the world. The company delivered another record performance for the fiscal year ended March, 2008. Its strong and diversified base of upstream assets gives the company a significant competitive advantage. However, price escalations and increasing competition could lead to lower operational growth and market share for the company also suffering from supply and production disruptions in its operations.
Robust Revenue Growth
Petronas delivered a record revenue performance for the fiscal year ended March 2008. The company recorded highest-ever revenue at $66,215 million in the fiscal year 2008, an increase of 29.9% over 2007, driven by higher sales volume and average realized prices. The company’s revenues from Malaysian and international operations increased 15.07% and 34.3% respectively in 2008, demonstrating its growing operational presence. The company’s profit before tax (operating profit) increased by 33.78% to $29,333 million, as the company successfully contained costs despite operating in an environment with disproportionate operating cost escalations. The net profit was $20,002 million in the fiscal year 2008, an increase of 38.4% over 2007. Petronas also had a stronger balance sheet with assets totaling $106,039 million in the fiscal year 2008, an increase of 24.4% over 2007. The long term debt burden of the company decreased to $9,314 million in 2008, as compared to $9,418 million in 2007 and $9,860 million in 2006. Robust revenue growth will allow the company to pursue strategic capital investment opportunities in the future.
The company has vertically integrated operations along the energy value chain, both locally and globally. Its operations encompass the full spectrum of oil and gas operations, in the areas of oil and gas exploration and production to oil refining; marketing and trading of crude oil and refined products; gas processing and liquefaction; operation of gas transmission pipeline network and marketing of liquefied natural gas. The company also engages in petrochemical manufacturing and marketing, shipping and property investment. Petronas operates in more than 33 countries worldwide through five business divisions, namely exploration and production, gas business, oil business, petrochemicals and logistics and maritime. The company generated 22% of the total revenues during the fiscal year 2007 from its exploration and production operations; while the gas business, oil business, petrochemicals and logistics and maritime divisions accounted for 19%, 43.8%, 5.8% and 4.5%, respectively.
The integrated nature of the company’s business operations enables it to add value to the energy value chain and pursue strategic growth opportunities and cost savings. Further, the diversified operations of the company in terms of business divisions and geographic locations relieve it from risks related to a downturn in one particular market.
Declined Upstream Assets
Petronas has strong upstream assets. The company’s reserves position is strong in terms of capacity, replacement ratio and geographic diversity. At the end of the fiscal year 2008, the company’s proved reserves totaled 26.37 billion boe as compared to 26.49 billion boe. The reserves replacement ratio (RRR) in 2008 was 0.9 times in Malaysia and 0.6 times internationally as compared to 1.4 and 3.2 times during 2007. Lack of proper reserve replacement as compared to the previous year could impact the company’s plans of increasing its sales and maintaining a stable supply source.
The company’s overseas refinery in Durban , South Africa suffered disruption of operations during the fiscal 2008. The company’s production from the plant declined by 9.1% owing to unplanned shutdowns as a result of fire. As a result the company’s supply and distribution operations got affected. Disruption of operations resulted in financial losses and operational adjustments. The company also suffered similar loss by fire in its home country storage facility in 2006. Continuing disruption in operations by mishaps could lead to huge cumulative losses in the near future. It would not only affect the operations but also lengthen the sales cycles thereby reducing the profitability.
Increasing LNG Capacity
Petronas is aiming to build a global, integrated LNG business. After commencing operations in the previous year 2006, the company’s share of production from the ELNG project increased from 1.2 million tons to 1.8 million tons during the year 2007. Currently, the company is involved in the debottlenecking of the MLNG Dua Plant in Malaysia , which will increase the combined production capacity of the Petronas LNG Complex by 1.2 million tons per annum to about 24 million tons per annum. The debottlenecking project is scheduled for completion in 2009. Further, the Dragon LNG receiving and regasification terminal in the U.K. is expected to be operational in 2008 and will provide the company with access to the U.K. and European gas markets and a home for future LNG cargoes.
The natural gas demand, driven by the demand for LNG and high fuel prices, is expected to grow significantly. Global consumption of natural gas is projected to increase by nearly 70 percent between 2002 and 2025, to reach 156 trillion cubic feet in 2025. During 2005-2010, demand for natural gas is expected to increase at 2-3% per annum. The company’s focus on natural gas and LNG, makes it well positioned to tap opportunities in the growing LNG market worldwide.
Rising Demand for Oil and Natural Gas
The strong economic growth in the developing countries will drive global oil and natural gas demand. The overall global energy demand will grow about 1.6% annually to 2030. With the growing transportation sector, the demand for liquid fuels is expected to rise at a rate of 1.4% per year. Driven by increasing demand for electricity, natural gas demand is expected to increase by 1.7% annually to 2030.
The majority of demand is expected to be driven by emerging Asian market. Petronas is well positioned to take advantage of emerging growth opportunities worldwide. The company’s assets are well configured to supply liquids demand growth in Asia which is estimated to be average 2% per annum in the region through 2030. The projected increase in demand for liquid fuels and natural gas in the coming years would help the company boost its sales and strengthen its financial base.
Growing Demand for Refined and Petrochemical Products in China The demand for refined petroleum products and petrochemicals in China is expected to rise sharply in the coming decades. China , despite substantial additions to domestic refining capacity, is expected to remain a net importer of refined products. The petrochemical industry in China has been facing demand supply gap. The country’s demand and supply for ethylene is expected to be 24 million tons and 15 million tons respectively in 2010, which indicate that domestic supply can meet around 62% of the domestic demand. With the auto market booming, China ‘s demand for gasoline is expected to increase from 52 million tons in 2006 to 65 million tons in 2010. A positive outlook for petrochemicals is encouraging multinationals and domestic companies to create new capacity in China .
Currently, the company is involved in plant rejuvenation and debottlenecking projects at its polyvinyl chloride (PVC), methanol and ethylene plants in Malaysia , which would result in increased production capacity of 10% to 20% within the next two years. The company’s Mega Methanol Project in Labuan , with a planned capacity of 1.7 million tons per year, is set to strengthen the company’s position as a major supplier of methanol. The company could leverage growing demand for refined products and petrochemicals in China to drive top-line growth.
The fiscal year 2007 saw oil and gas companies globally operate in a highly challenging environment, as escalating costs overshadowed gains from high energy prices. Crude oil prices remained high during the fiscal year as global demand, particularly from the transportation sector, continued to increase on the back of strong economic growth, especially in China and India . Stronger demand, coupled with lack of refining capacity globally and OPEC crude production curtailment, pushed oil prices higher. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crudes increased during the year 2008. The increased oil prices and demand spurred intensified industry activities and consequently drove up the company’s upstream costs. The escalation in cost has already led to project delays and adversely impacted the safety, efficiency and quality of the company’s operations. A continuing trend of cost escalation will also negatively affect the economic viability of the company’s ongoing and planned projects, thereby pressurizing i ts future earning capacity.
Stringent Laws and Regulations
The oil and gas industry is subject to various national, regional and local environmental laws and regulations, with regard to the exploration and production of oil and gas, petroleum and petrochemical products and other activities. According to these laws and regulations, in many regions, companies must file and get an approval for an environmental evaluation report prior to the commencement of exploration, production, refining and chemical projects. The companies must also restrict the type, quantities and concentration of various substances that can be released into the environment in connection with drilling and production activities. Further, environmental laws and regulations also limit or prohibit drilling activities within protected areas and certain other areas; and impose penalties for pollution resulting from oil, natural gas and petrochemical operations, including criminal and civil liabilities for serious pollution.
These laws and regulations also restrict air emissions and discharges to surface and subsurface water resulting from the operation of natural gas processing plants, chemical plants, refineries, pipeline systems and other facilities that the company owns. Petronas is also subject to laws and regulations relating to the generation, handling, storage, transportation, disposal and treatment of solid waste materials. Due to increasing importance given to environmental safety, it is possible for the environmental laws and regulations to become increasingly strict and rigid. In such a scenario, the company will have to incur heavy expenses in order to adhere to the industry norms in all the regions where it has operations.