Friday 5 February 2010

Oil, gas and Petronas

For those who thought the issue about Petronas leadership will be put at rest with the announcement of Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas as it's new President and CEO, they may find that such case is not true.

In the absence of more details regarding his terms, there is now concern about whether or not he is just and interim President, to fill the gap until somebody younger with longer service tenure to surface. The Malaysian Insider, quoting a report from Reuters, raises a point that at 57, Datuk Shamsul may not serve similar tenure as what Tan Sri Hassan Merican, the former President and CEO, did. Will there be another leadership change?

The larger concern is whether Petronas could maintain its excellent track record and performance and minimising political interference which could sidetrack it form continuing to be a world class company. The incident where the board of Petronas rejected the nominee from the Prime Minister not that long ago would be a dot which will be considered in assessing the future of Petronas.

At the same time, the report about Malaysia having problem in supplying gas to new companies which plan to come to Malaysia is another issue that could derail our plan to move up the value chain. Is this the impact of maintaining a highly subsidised gas regime where there is no motivation for users to be efficient or it is simply a problem of planning? Could it also be the outcome of forward selling our gas in raising funds to finance our spending in the past? Whatever the real reasons are, Petronas will be involved and could be holding the key to the solutions.

Petronas has certainly demonstrated itself as a respected global company. As the global business environment shifts further, it would have to compete in a more challenging circumstances where competency and business acumen would determine its success or failure.

The last thing that we want as Malaysians is for Petronas to be influenced in such a way that it would have to accede to political interests more that its business interest and the interest of you and me as Malaysians, the real owner of Petronas.

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