Malaysia's Petronas swings to US$2.02b loss in Q4

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysian state energy firm Petronas said on Friday it posted a net loss of 7.3 billion ringgit (S$2.75 billion) in the fourth quarter due to a slide in global oil prices and asset impairment losses.

In the same three-month period ending December 2014, Petronas, the single largest revenue contributor to the government, posted 12.8 billion ringgit profit.

It is Petronas' first ever quarterly loss since five years ago when it launched its quarterly reports.

Malaysia's only Fortune 500 company said that it plans capital spending cuts of between 20 to 30 billion ringgit for the next two years.

Revenue for the quarter was down 6.4 per cent to 79.4 billion ringgit from 84.8 billion ringgit in the same period last year, the company said.

"2015 average oil prices are expected to be significantly lower than 2014 and will impact profitability," the unlisted company said in a statement.

President and CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas, who will step down at the end of March after being at the helm for five years, told reporters that Petronas will embark on a "prudent" strategy due to the slump in oil prices.

"Some key projects will be deferred. We are just being prudent," he said.

The weak quarterly results dragged down its net profit for the 12-month period ended December 31, 2014, which fell 27 per cent to 47.6 billion ringgit.

Petronas expects crude oil prices to hover around the US$55 a barrel level for 2015.

Petronas group CFO George Ratilal said the company's average crude price for the fourth quarter was around US$70 a barrel as compared to US$109 a barrel a year earlier, adding that profitability will be hurt in 2015 due to lower prices.

"Outlook is going to be bad for 2015. (But) we will be profitable for 2015," he said.

Chief Operating Officer Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin will succeed Shamsul as president and chief executive.


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