PETROLIAM Nasional Bhd (Petronas) posted record revenue of RM81.4bil last year on higher oil prices and output, and the national oil company believes there are even better days ahead.
In the coming years we will see the corporation reaping the fruits of the investments it had been making in the past decade,'' chairman Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin told the media during a presentation of the group's 2003 financial results in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The opportunities for further expansion are bewilderingly enormous. The challenge faced by Petronas moving forward in its expansion programme is to ensure that it does not take on more than it can handle,'' he said.
The optimistic outlook stems from a record-setting year, in which revenue rose 21.2% to RM81.4bil for the financial year ended March 2003, from RM67.2bil a year ago.
Pre-tax profit rose 10.5% to RM26.9bil from RM24.3bil, and net profit increased 3.7% to RM15.1bil from RM14.6bil.
Petronas's 2003 pre-tax and net profits were, however, lower than what it registered in 2001.
Net profit for 2003 was affected by a stronger South African rand against the US dollar, and lower contribution from Petronas unit Malaysia International Shipping Corp Bhd.
While (the oil) price was the main factor for the impressive performance, the integrated character of the corporation's business was an important element in ensuring the overall profitability of the group,'' Azizan said.
Total assets grew to RM178bil last year from RM144.2bil previously, and shareholders' funds rose to RM78.4bil from RM64.8bil.
Group borrowings rose to RM58.1bil from RM40.4bil. Petronas's cash holdings, much of which is kept abroad in Malaysian owned-banks, increased to RM55.4bil from RM42.8bil.
As of end-March 2003, the national oil corporation was operating in 34 countries, up from 30 a year earlier. The international side of the group's business, together with exports, contributed RM61.3bil or 75% to group revenue. Exports, amounting to RM36.4bil, accounted for almost 45% of its international business.
Petronas signed 17 new production sharing contracts (PSCs) last year nine in Africa increasing the number of its exploration ventures to 57 in 25 countries.
We have focus regions around the world, and we tend to stay in these focus regions in terms of acquisitions and expanding our business,'' said president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hassan Marican.
Everybody knows Africa is a focus region for us, and we have expanded tremendously in the continent over the past few years. We continue to look at Africa in a positive way,'' he said.
In a statement, the company said gross sales volume of crude oil last year increased to 378.8 million barrels from 339.5 million in 2002. Together with higher oil prices, this resulted in a 32% increase in revenue from sales of crude oil to RM19.2bil.
Gross sales of refined petroleum products grew to 342.5 million barrels from 336 million, with both Petronas Dagangan Bhd and Engen Ltd of South Africa increasing their sales.
Petronas said Malaysia's crude oil reserves , including condensates, as of Jan 1 this year tood at 4.5 billion barrels, up from 4.3 billion in 2002.
Natural gas reserves grew to 89 trillion standard cu ft (TSCF) from 87.5 TSCF approximately three times the size of crude oil and condensates reserves.
The PSC contractors increased their investments substantially, by 23%, to a record RM10.4bil, compared with RM8.5bil in 2002.
Approximately half the investment in the nation's exploration and production (E&P) sector was made by foreign PSC contractors, and the remainder by Petronas's E&P subsidiary, Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd,'' the statement said.
On international E&P, Petronas said the group had accumulated international reserves of about 4.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), up 1.1 billion from last year.
Successful discoveries in Turk- menistan and Sudan, and the acquisition of producing assets in Indonesia, have contributed to the growth in overseas reserves,'' it said.