New Straits Times

Mexican expansion in the pipeline

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Nasional Bhd (Petronas) president and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin spoke candidly on a range of issues during a briefing at the national oil corporatio­n’s headquarte­rs recently. Here are some excerpts:

On Petronas’ investment

in Mexico

“We are the third-largest acreage resource holder in Mexico after Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos) and Shell. I wanted to move away from being scattered all over the globe. We want to place more bets in Mexico.

“Very early on, we bought a lot of seismic data. We wanted a team of exploratio­nists who were familiar with the area, just like in Malaysia. We thought it would be a good idea to only focus on certain places where we are very familiar with the data. It’s all about data processing plus some luck in terms of exploratio­n success.

“It will be a place where, hopefully, we will be a real significan­t player in years to come. These are all exploratio­n blocks. It will be many more years before first oil. I’m thinking post-2025 when we get first oil. It’s still a long way. We’re very excited about the prospects in years to come.”

On the popularity of nasi lemak from Petronas

petrol stations

“We always reserve a certain percentage of our floor space for local entreprene­urs in the vicinity to put their products. But it comes with some risks if the quality is not up to standard. We need to make sure the suppliers are good. People think it is a simple business, but actually it’s not.”

On transparen­cy

“Last year, we issued the Petronas Activity Outlook. This is something Petronas has never done before, telling others what our plans are for the next three years. I believe we should be transparen­t. It is a rolling forecast, and we will do it every year.

“We are open: this is how many rigs, vessels we would need, what kind of turnaround, contracts, etc. So, the service providers can plan for it. They may not like the informatio­n that’s given to them, but that’s the reality and everybody has to do what’s best — whether they want to expand, downsize or consolidat­e.”

On venturing into speciality

chemicals

“After we finish Pengerang, then the next wave should continue further downstream, more value adding. For example in Gebeng, we are producing speciality chemicals and perfume ingredient­s. Those are the kind of things that we would like to go into, those with high value.

“We’re looking at opportunit­ies to do absorbant materials for diapers. That’s why I’m bullish (about the Petronas Chemical business). Look at the China market, imagine how many diapers they need, both for babies and the older folk.”

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