Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has revised its dividend payment to the government this year to RM24 billion from the RM19 billion announced earlier in March.
President and group chief executive officer Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said the increase was backed by improved oil prices and group earnings.
“In the first half of 2018, Petronas recorded RM117.2 billion in revenue, up eight percent from RM108.1 billion recorded in the same period in 2017.
“This was driven by the group’s continued focus on driving operational excellence and execution of its business improvement initiative, supported by higher commodity prices and improved margins,” Wan Zulkiflee told a press conference on the company's 2018 half-year financial results in Kuala Lumpur today.
In 2017, Petronas’ dividend payout to the government amounted to RM16 billion.
Net profit rose 54 percent to RM26.6 billion from RM17.3 billion chalked up in the first half of 2017. Wan Zulkiflee (photo) said it expected Brent crude to average just below US$73 per barrel at year-end.
“However, taking a conservative view in planning our expenditure for 2019, we are expecting Brent crude to stay around US$66 per barrel on an annual average due to fragile supply and demand,” he said.
On tussle with oil and gas activities in Sarawak
Meanwhile, commenting on the ongoing tussle with oil and gas activities in Sarawak, Wan Zulkiflee said Petronas was leaving it to the federal and state governments to discuss the percentage of royalties and would be guided by the outcome of the discussion.
He said Petronas has provided inputs and implications or scenarios but it was not involved in the discussions.
“However, for day to day operations, we are in active discussion with Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), the nominated entity by the Sarawak government, on how the working arrangement can be mutually acceptable to all parties.
"The grace period that we have, to sort out these matters with Petros, is until end of next year.
“This is important as we all need to keep Malaysia’s oil and gas (O&G) industry resilient and as an attractive investment destination for foreign O&G companies,” Wan Zulkiflee said.
He added that Sarawak was claiming rights over its O&G activities and since July 1, it has started regulating O&G activities in the state.
On outlook, Wan Zulkiflee said Petronas would maintain its prudent view and continue to pursue more growth opportunities to ensure its ensure long-term sustainability.
“We expect the overall year-end performance to be satisfactory,” he added.