S&P sees risk for upstream oil firms, affirms Petronas rating


S&P said Petronas’ solid record of maintaining a strong balance sheet, and the company’s status as a dominant hydrocarbon producer in Asia tempered the incremental industry risk.

PETALING JAYA: S&P Global Ratings has raised the industry risk for the oil and gas (O&G) companies in the exploration and production (E&P) business to moderately high risk from intermediate risk on the greater shift towards renewable energy.

It said yesterday that the increasing adoption and transition of renewable energy alternatives to address climate change could affect the supply and demand for O&G, and therefore producers of fossil fuel.

“While we believe O&G will have a place in the global energy industry, the encroachment of market share by renewable energy will have broad implications for hydrocarbon demand, prices and producers.

“As a result, we believe the risk of disinvestment and reduced capital market access may increase for companies in this sector, ” it said.

In its rating announcement on Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), S&P said Petronas’ solid record of maintaining a strong balance sheet, and the company’s status as a dominant hydrocarbon producer in Asia tempered the incremental industry risk.

“We continue to assess the company’s standalone credit profile (SACP) as 'aa', ” it said and affirmed its A local currency and A- foreign currency long-term issuer credit ratings on Petronas.

It also affirmed its A- foreign currency issue ratings on the notes and sukuk trust certificates the company has issued or guaranteed.

In affirming its ratings on Petronas, S&P cited the relationship with the government was likely to remain intact.

“In our opinion, the company will remain of critical importance to the government of Malaysia and will maintain a close relationship with its sole owner.

“Petronas plays a critical role for the government as the sole owner of the rights to all of the country’s O&G resources.

“That status makes Petronas’ role crucial for the use of domestic resources; the company’s hydrocarbon production accounted for close to 80% of the country’s total production in 2019, ” it said.

S&P said Petronas’ aa SACP reflected its view that the company’s dominant position in Malaysia could offset its weakened business prospects.

“We believe the change in the E&P industry’s conditions has weakened Petronas’ position relative to major global peers with similar business risks.

“This is mainly due to Petronas’ smaller size and reserve life.

“For example, the total proven (P1) O&G reserves of China National Petroleum Corp and Exxon Mobil were 20 billion and 22 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), respectively, as of end-2019, considerably larger than Petronas’ 5.9 billion boe.

“Nevertheless, we believe the incremental business risk for Petronas can be tempered by the company’s relative business strength as the sole and dominant operator of hydrocarbon assets in Malaysia.”

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