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 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 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.
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."
Media Relations Department
Group Strategic Communications
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 23 March 2020 – Brent: US$27/b; WTI: US$23/b
Headlines of the week
Crude oil prices have fallen significantly since the beginning of 2020, largely driven by the economic contraction caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID19) and a sudden increase in crude oil supply following the suspension of agreed production cuts among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and partner countries. With falling demand and increasing supply, the front-month price of the U.S. benchmark crude oil West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell from a year-to-date high closing price of $63.27 per barrel (b) on January 6 to a year-to-date low of $20.37/b on March 18 (Figure 1), the lowest nominal crude oil price since February 2002.
WTI crude oil prices have also fallen significantly along the futures curve, which charts monthly price settlements for WTI crude oil delivery over the next several years. For example, the WTI price for December 2020 delivery declined from $56.90/b on January 2, 2020, to $32.21/b as of March 24. In addition to the sharp price decline, the shape of the futures curve has shifted from backwardation—when near-term futures prices are higher than longer-dated ones—to contango, when near-term futures prices are lower than longer-dated ones. The WTI 1st-13th spread (the difference between the WTI price in the nearest month and the price for WTI 13 months away) settled at -$10.34/b on March 18, the lowest since February 2016, exhibiting high contango. The shift from backwardation to contango reflects the significant increase in petroleum inventories. In its March 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), released on March 11, 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commercial petroleum inventories will rise to 2.9 billion barrels in March, an increase of 20 million barrels over the previous month and 68 million barrels over March 2019 (Figure 2). Since the release of the March STEO, changes in various oil market and macroeconomic indicators suggest that inventory builds are likely to be even greater than EIA’s March forecast.
Significant price volatility has accompanied both price declines and price increases. Since 1999, 69% of the time, daily WTI crude oil prices increased or decreased by less than 2% relative to the previous trading day. Daily oil price changes during March 2020 have exceeded 2% 13 times (76% of the month’s traded days) as of March 24. For example, the 10.1% decline on March 6 after the OPEC meeting was larger than 99.8% of the daily percentage price decreases since 1999. The 24.6% decline on March 9 and the 24.4% decline on March 18 were the largest and second largest percent declines, respectively, since at least 1999 (Figure 3).
On March 10, a series of government announcements indicated that emergency fiscal and monetary policy were likely to be forthcoming in various countries, which contributed to a 10.4% increase in the WTI price, the 12th-largest daily increase since 1999. During other highly volatile time periods, such as the 2008 financial crisis, both large price increases and decreases occurred in quick succession. During the 2008 financial crisis, the largest single-day increase—a 17.8% rise on September 22, 2008—was followed the next day by the largest single-day decrease, a 12.0% fall on September 23, 2008.
Market price volatility during the first quarter of 2020 has not been limited to oil markets (Figure 4). The recent volatility in oil markets has also coincided with increased volatility in equity markets because the products refined from crude oil are used in many parts of the economy and because the COVID-19-related economic slowdown affects a broad array of economic activities. This can be measured through implied volatility—an estimate of a security’s expected range of near-term price changes—which can be calculated using price movements of financial options and measured by the VIX index for the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) 500 index and the OVX index for WTI prices. Implied volatility for both the S&P 500 index and WTI are higher than the levels seen during the 2008 financial crisis, which peaked on November 20, 2008, at 80.9 and on December 11, 2008, at 100.4, respectively, compared with 61.7 for the VIX and 170.9 for the OVX as of March 24.
Comparing implied volatility for the S&P 500 index with WTI’s suggests that although recent volatility is not limited to oil markets, oil markets are likely more volatile than equity markets at this point. The oil market’s relative volatility is not, however, in and of itself unusual. Oil markets are almost always more volatile than equity markets because crude oil demand is price inelastic—whereby price changes have relatively little effect on the quantity of crude oil demanded—and because of the relative diversity of the companies constituting the S&P 500 index. But recent oil market volatility is still historically high, even in comparison to the volatility of the larger equity market. As denoted by the red line in the bottom of Figure 4, the difference between the OVX and VIX reached an all-time high of 124.1 on March 23, compared with an average difference of 16.8 between May 2007 (the date the OVX was launched) and March 24, 2020.
Markets currently appear to expect continued and increasing market volatility, and, by extension, increasing uncertainty in the pricing of crude oil. Oil’s current level of implied volatility—a forward-looking measure for the next 30 days—is also high relative to its historical, or realized, volatility. Historical volatility can influence the market’s expectations for future price uncertainty, which contributes to higher implied volatility. Some of this difference is a structural part of the market, and implied volatility typically exceeds historical volatility as sellers of options demand a volatility risk premium to compensate them for the risk of holding a volatile security. But as the yellow line in Figure 4 shows, the current implied volatility of WTI prices is still higher than normal. The difference between implied and historical volatility reached an all-time high of 44.7 on March 20, compared with an average difference of 2.3 between 2007 and March 2020. This trend could suggest that options (prices for which increase with volatility) are relatively expensive and, by extension, that demand for financial instruments to limit oil price exposure are relatively elevated.
Increased price correlation among several asset classes also suggests that similar economic factors are driving prices in a variety of markets. For example, both the correlation between changes in the price of WTI and changes in the S&P 500 and the correlation between WTI and other non-energy commodities (as measured by the S&P Commodity Index (GSCI)) increased significantly in March. Typically, when correlations between WTI and other asset classes increase, it suggests that expectations of future economic growth—rather than issues specific to crude oil markets— tend to be the primary drivers of price formation. In this case, price declines for oil, equities, and non-energy commodities all indicate that concerns over global economic growth are likely the primary force driving price formation (Figure 5).
U.S. average regular gasoline and diesel prices fall
The U.S. average regular gasoline retail price fell nearly 13 cents from the previous week to $2.12 per gallon on March 23, 50 cents lower than a year ago. The Midwest price fell more than 16 cents to $1.87 per gallon, the West Coast price fell nearly 15 cents to $2.88 per gallon, the East Coast and Gulf Coast prices each fell nearly 11 cents to $2.08 per gallon and $1.86 per gallon, respectively, and the Rocky Mountain price declined more than 8 cents to $2.24 per gallon.
The U.S. average diesel fuel price fell more than 7 cents from the previous week to $2.66 per gallon on March 23, 42 cents lower than a year ago. The Midwest price fell more than 9 cents to $2.50 per gallon, the West Coast price fell more than 7 cents to $3.25 per gallon, the East Coast and Gulf Coast prices each fell nearly 7 cents to $2.72 per gallon and $2.44 per gallon, respectively, and the Rocky Mountain price fell more than 6 cents to $2.68 per gallon.
Propane/propylene inventories decline
U.S. propane/propylene stocks decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week to 64.9 million barrels as of March 20, 2020, 15.5 million barrels (31.3%) greater than the five-year (2015-19) average inventory levels for this same time of year. Gulf Coast inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels, East Coast inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels, and Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories decrease by 0.2 million barrels. Midwest inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 8.5% of total propane/propylene inventories.
Residential heating fuel prices decrease
As of March 23, 2020, residential heating oil prices averaged $2.45 per gallon, almost 15 cents per gallon below last week’s price and nearly 77 cents per gallon lower than last year’s price at this time. Wholesale heating oil prices averaged more than $1.11 per gallon, almost 14 cents per gallon below last week’s price and 98 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.
Residential propane prices averaged more than $1.91 per gallon, nearly 2 cents per gallon below last week’s price and almost 49 cents per gallon below last year’s price. Wholesale propane prices averaged more than $0.42 per gallon, more than 7 cents per gallon lower than last week’s price and almost 36 cents per gallon below last year’s price.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 16 March 2020 – Brent: US$30/b; WTI: US$28/b
Headlines of the week