Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas - President and CEO of Petroliam Nasional Bhd

  • Business
  • Saturday, 28 Dec 2013

ENTRUSTED to manage the nation’s rich oil reserves, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is constantly under public scrutiny as it strikes a balance to fulfil a social role above delivering performance.

This arguably makes Shamsul’s job, not unlike his predecessors, the toughest in corporate Malaysia.

For instance, Petronas earlier this year was criticised for not doing enough to promote the bumiputra agenda in the oil and gas (O&G) industry. The critics alleged that Petronas had sidelined the bumiputra companies, including those that were qualified for the job.

Shamsul, on the other hand, countered the accusations using statistics that proved Petronas had not abandoned that particular social cause, while also stressing that while it was important to promote the bumiputra agenda, there was no room for rent-seekers.

Petronas was also thrust into the limelight when it attempted to take MISC Bhd private at RM5.50 a share, an offer minorities said was unfair given that the company had made a cash call at RM7.20 a share three years earlier. Interestingly several months later, Petronas announced that it would directly buy newly-built ships to meet its LNG transportation requirements, raising concerns that the move might impact MISC’s growth.

Meanwhile, Petronas will continue to drive the O&G sector again this year with its five-year RM300bil capital expenditure commitment and as it pushes for more deepwater oil fields.

In March 2014, it will also make the final decision on its RM60bil Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development complex in Pengerang, a project that is poised to spearhead a host of value-added petroleum-related industries.

Under Shamsul, Petronas has ventured into risk service contracts (RSCs) with the private sector for marginal oilfields. The results have been mixed.

Since RSCs were introduced, Shamsul and Petronas have decided that they themselves should be working on some of the marginal oilfields and as a result have set up Vestigo Petroleum Sdn Bhd. – By Gurmeet Kaur

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