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Last Updated: March 15, 2017
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PETRONAS’ financial year results that ended 31 December 2016 have shown improvements despite the challenging market environment. This was the result of the deliberate sequential measures undertaken by the Group in response to the low oil prices which included the Group’s transformation efforts and its continuous pursuit to optimise cost and improve efficiency.

PETRONAS’ profit grew by 12 per cent to record higher Profit After Tax (PAT) of RM23.5 billion, from RM20.9 billion recorded in 2015. This was mainly due to lower operating expenditures and tax expenses partially offset by lower average prices.

The Group’s revenue for the year dipped by 17 per cent to RM204.9 billion from RM247.7 billion in 2015. The decrease reflected the lower average prices in line with the downward trend of key benchmark prices (Dated Brent and Japan Customs Cleared Crude) coupled with the impact of lower sales volume.

Cumulative 2016 Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) was RM70.4 billion compared to RM75.5 billion recorded in 2015.

Cash flows from the Group’s operating activities also decreased from RM69.6 billion in 2015 to RM53.8 billion due to lower average prices, partially offset by lower tax paid.

The Group’s continuous efforts to reduce cost had contributed in 8 per cent or RM4.1 billion decrease in controllable costs to RM49.1 billion compared to RM53.2 billion in 2015.

Total assets and shareholders’ equity increased to RM603.3 billion and RM380.3 billion respectively, contributed by the impact of weakening of Ringgit against US Dollar exchange rate and favourable movement on fair value of available-for-sale financial assets.

Gearing ratio increased to 17.4 per cent compared to 16.0 per cent recorded last year. This was due to higher borrowings following additional drawdown made during the year. Return on Average Capital Employed (ROACE) increased to 5.3 per cent compared to 5.1 per cent in 2015 in line with the Group’s higher profits.

Capital investments for the year was reduced by 22 per cent to RM50.4 billion following project deferment and rephasing as well as cost optimisation efforts.

Meanwhile, PETRONAS’ quarter four profits recorded a strong 85 per cent jump in PAT to RM11.3 billion from RM6.1 billion recorded in the previous quarter. The RM5.2 billion increase was primarily driven by higher average realised product prices and sales volume mainly from LNG and processed gas as well as impact of favourable exchange rate partially offset by higher taxation.

Revenue rose by 20 per cent to RM58.6 billion from RM48.7 billion in the preceding quarter.

EBITDA for the quarter also grew by 44 per cent to RM21.9 billion in line with the Group’s higher profits.


Upstream


Upstream continued to focus on delivering its commitments across the oil and gas value chain while putting in measures to increase cash generation and optimise cost.

Malaysia and PETRONAS Group’s international total upstream production was 2,363 thousand boe per day in 2016, a three per cent increase compared to 2,290 thousand boe per day in 2015. This was mainly driven by the resumption of operations of the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline, higher facilities uptime in Malaysia and Canada, and higher production from Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

PETRONAS Group’s total Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) third party sales volume for the year was 29.01 million tonnes, marginally higher compared to 28.49 million tonnes in 2015 mainly contributed by higher volumes from Train 9 in Bintulu and GLNG in Australia, partially offset by lower trading volume.

Average sales gas volume for Malaysia in 2016 was higher as compared to 2015 in line with higher demand.

Among notable achievements in Upstream for 2016 include acquisition of four international blocks which include two recently acquired blocks in Mexico and two in Myanmar, the commissioning and delivery of first LNG cargo from Train 9, and successful commissioning of PFLNG Satu.


Downstream


Downstream Business managed the impact of depressed market growth, lower product prices and spreads to record only a slight decline in the Downstream’s PAT from RM8.4 billion in 2015 to RM8.3 billion in 2016.

The collaborative efforts undertaken across the value chain led to higher utilisation of the Group’s manufacturing units in 2016. PETRONAS’ refineries in Malaysia and South Africa recorded strong refinery utilisation at 90.5 per cent and 89.9 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, its petrochemical plants set a new record in utilisation since incorporation of 95.7 per cent, an improvement from the previous record of 85.3 per cent in 2015. This led to an increase in petrochemical products sales volume by 14 per cent from 6.4 million metric tonnes to 7.3 million metric tonnes.

Rationalisation of marketing and trading strategies to drive value focused activities, resulted in higher margins despite lower sales volume. Total petroleum products sales volume was 268.1 million barrels, 14.5 million barrels lower compared to 2015, while crude oil sales volume was 189.3 million barrels, 24.6 million barrels lower compared to the previous year.

Downstream projects continued to progress well. The Pengerang Integrated Complex as at February 2017 is close to 60 per cent completion and is on track to commence operations by 2019. Recently, PETRONAS signed a Share Purchase Agreement with Saudi Aramco for a 50 per cent equity in selected ventures and assets of the RAPID project. Meanwhile SAMUR is expected to begin commercial operations within the first half of 2017.


Outlook


The Group continues to maintain a conservative outlook for 2017 and expects prices to remain uncertain. PETRONAS will continue to focus on its group-wide efforts to reduce costs and further improve efficiency and sustain world-class operational efficiencies through collaborations within and outside the industry.


Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, President and Group CEO PETRONAS


"I am encouraged that PETRONAS has emerged from 2016 as a more resilient Corporation with strong underlying performance driven by our new structure, significant cost reductions and improved performance. We are in a stronger position heading into 2017."



Issued by


Media Relations Department


Group Strategic Communications


PETRONAS

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China’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves

After the OPEC+ club met on September 1st,  and confirmed that it would be sticking to its plan of increasing its crude supply by 400,000 b/d a month through December, China made a rather unusual announcement. It announced that it was going to release some crude oil from its strategic petroleum reserves, selling it to domestic refiners that were grappling with crude’s heady price rise over 2021. The release of strategic oil reserves isn’t news in itself. What is news is that the usually secretive China did it and did it publicly.

And it did it to send a message to OPEC+: attempts to create artificial scarcity to maintain crude prices will not be tolerated. China has a right to feel that way. Even though great strides have been made to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, the virus is still exerting major effects on the global economy. Not least a massive ripple through the health of global supply chains that has seen the price of almost everything – plastics, semiconductors, agricultural commodity, lumber, steel – spike due to supply issues. In some cases, the prices of raw materials are at historic highs. Crude oil is still nowhere near its peak of above US$100/b, but it is high enough to be concerning, especially since it is happening within a major inflationary environment. And for a manufacturing-heavy economy like China, that matters. That matters a lot. So China’s National Food and Strategic Reserves announced that it would be releasing some of the country’s crude stocks to ‘better stabilise domestic market supply and demand, and effectively guarantee the country’s energy security’, a month after the country’s producer price inflation – ie. the cost of manufacturing – hit a 13-year high.

China made good on that promise, releasing 7.38 million barrels from its stockpile to domestic bidders on September 24 with more tranches expected. This was the first ever recorded release from China’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR), which began back in 2009 in serendipitous response to crude oil prices exceeding the US$100/b mark for the first time in 2008. But curiously, it may not have been the first ever release. So secretive is the SPR that China does not reveal the size of the reserve, although analysts have estimated it at some 300-400 million barrels with total capacity of 500 million barrels using satellite imaging. It has been speculated that batches of crude from the SPR have been released before on the quiet. But this is the first time China has gone public. Compared to the country’s overall oil consumption, 7.38 million barrels is small, almost tiny. And even if additional supplies are released, it will not make a major impact on China’s oil balances. But the message is what is important.

It is a message that China is not alone in sending. US President Joe Biden has already called on OPEC+ to accelerate its supply easing plans, given indications that the crude glut built up over 2020 has been all but erased. It is a notion that would be supported by some OPEC+ members – Russia, Mexico, the UAE – but so far, the discipline advocated by Saudi Arabia has held. The US too has attempted to release of its own crude reserve stocks – the largest in the world with a capacity of 727 million barrels – but this was also in response to the devastating impact of Hurricane Ida. India, China’s closest analogue to size and stage, has been complaining too. As a major oil importer and with a shakier economic situation, India is particularly sensitive to oil price swings. US$70/b is way above what New Delhi is comfortable with. But since India’s appeals to OPEC+ have fallen on deaf ears, it is attempting domestic directives instead. India’s state refiners have been ordered to reduce crude purchases from the Middle East, but with supply tight, there aren’t many other people to buy from. India has also been selling oil from its strategic reserve – officially stated to be for clearing space to lease storage capacity to refiners – although since India is more transparent about these announcements, the announcement isn’t as surprising.

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But, at the very least, the message has been sent. Beijing has a tool that it can wield if crude prices get out of hand, and it is not afraid to use it. The first step might have been small, and it is a giant leap in what mechanics are available to influence crude prices. And as history has proven, China can be very quick to scale up and very single-minded in its approach. Over to you, OPEC+.

End of Article

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Market Outlook:

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The New Wave of Renewable Fuels

In 2021, the makeup of renewables has also changed drastically. Technologies such as solar and wind are no longer novel, as is the idea of blending vegetable oils into road fuels or switching to electric-based vehicles. Such ideas are now entrenched and are not considered enough to shift the world into a carbon neutral future. The new wave of renewables focus on converting by-products from other carbon-intensive industries into usable fuels. Research into such technologies has been pioneered in universities and start-ups over the past two decades, but the impetus of global climate goals is now seeing an incredible amount of money being poured into them as oil & gas giants seek to rebalance their portfolios away from pure hydrocarbons with a goal of balancing their total carbon emissions in aggregate to zero.

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Chevron’s recent efforts have focused on biomethane, through a partnership with global waste solutions company Brightmark. The joint venture Brightmark RNG Holdings operations focused on convert cow manure to renewable natural gas, which are then converted into fuel for long-haul trucks, the very kind that criss-cross the vast highways of the US delivering goods from coast to coast. Launched in October 2020, the joint venture was extended and expanded in August, now encompassing 38 biomethane plants in seven US states, with first production set to begin later in 2021. The targeting of livestock waste is particularly crucial: methane emissions from farms is the second-largest contributor to climate change emissions globally. The technology to capture methane from manure (as well as landfills and other waste sites) has existed for years, but has only recently been commercialised to convert methane emissions from decomposition to useful products.

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But road fuels aren’t the only avenue for large-scale embracing of renewables. It could take to the air, literally. After all, the global commercial airline fleet currently stands at over 25,000 aircraft and is expected to grow to over 35,000 by 2030. All those planes will burn a lot of fuel. With the airline industry embracing the idea of AAF (or Alternative Aviation Fuels), developments into renewable jet fuels have been striking, from traditional bio-sources such as palm or soybean oil to advanced organic matter conversion from agricultural waste and manure. Chevron, again, has signed a landmark deal to advance the commercialisation. Together with Delta Airlines and Google, Chevron will be producing a batch of sustainable aviation fuel at its El Segundo refinery in California. Delta will then use the fuel, with Google providing a cloud-based framework to analyse the data. That data will then allow for a transparent analysis into carbon emissions from the use of sustainable aviation fuel, as benchmark for others to follow. The analysis should be able to confirm whether or not the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s estimates that renewable jet fuel can reduce lifecycle carbon intensity by up to 80%. And to strengthen the measure, Delta has pledged to replace 10% of its jet fuel with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

In a parallel, but no less pioneering lane, France’s TotalEnergies has announced that it is developing a 100% renewable fuel for use in motorsports, using bioethanol sourced from residues produced by the French wine industry (among others) at its Feyzin refinery in Lyon. This, it believes, will reduce the racing sports’ carbon emissions by an immediate 65%. The fuel, named Excellium Racing 100, is set to debut at the next season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans 2022 race.

But Chevron isn’t done yet. It is also falling back on the long-standing use of vegetable oils blended into US transport fuels by signing a wide-ranging agreement with commodity giant Bunge. Called a ‘farmer-to-fuelling station’ solution, Bunge’s soybean processing facilities in Louisiana and Illinois will be the source of meal and oil that will be converted by Chevron into diesel and jet fuel. With an investment of US$600 million, Chevron will assist Bunge in doubling the combined capacity of both plants by 2024, in line with anticipated increases in the US biofuels blending mandates.

Even ExxonMobil, one of the most reticent of the supermajors to embrace renewables wholesale, is getting in on the action. Its Imperial Oil subsidiary in Canada has announced plans to commercialise renewable diesel at a new facility near Edmonton using plant-based feedstock and hydrogen. The venture does only target the Canadian market – where political will to drive renewable adoption is far higher than in the US – but similar moves have already been adopted by other refiners for the US market, including major investments by Phillips 66 and Valero.

Ultimately, these recent moves are driven out of necessity. This is the way the industry is moving and anyone stubborn enough to ignore it will be left behind. Combined with other major investments driven by European supermajors over the past five years, this wider and wider adoption of renewable can only be better for the planet and, eventually, individual bottom lines. The renewables ball is rolling fast and is only gaining momentum.

End of Article

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Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$71-73/b, WTI – US$68-70/b
  • Global crude benchmarks have stayed steady, even as OPEC+ sticks to its plans to ease supply quotas against the uncertainty of rising Covid-19 cases worldwide
  • However, the success of vaccination drives has kindled hope that the effect of lockdowns – if any – will be mild, with pockets of demand resurgence in Europe; in China, where there has been a zero-tolerance drive to stamp out Covid outbreaks, fuel consumption is strengthening again, possibly tightening fuel balances in Q4
  • Meanwhile, much of the US Gulf of Mexico crude production remains hampered by the effects of Hurricane Ida, providing a counter-balance on the supply side

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