January 07, 2010

Battelle, Merge & Prof Riedle

PETRONAS is a multinational company focusing on Oil & Gas, engaging in both upstream & downstream. To ensure sustainability it is essential for PETRONAS to diversify in its business. Why? Simply because O&G is expected to run dry in 2017 in Malaysia and 2030 in other PETRONAS’ overseas operation, should PETRONAS not able to tie other upstream contract or find another well. Reinvestment in O&G is also too costly for PETRONAS or any other big player of the industry. PETRONAS itself has reinvested more than RM229 billion alone in 2009 (an amount that is about half of last year’s GDP). Last five P&L figures shows decrease of profit to 21% for FY2009 as compared to more than 42% in 2005. So I guess the reinvestment value will also drop by at least half from previous year. Having said this, PETRONAS is still having a large cash pile. It’s latest balance sheet shows US$35.8 billion (RM123.5 billion) in cash and fund investments while total debts is only at US$11.5 billion. With US$25.9 billion of cash in hand, should the company start to diversify to other business now?

One might ask what kind of future business should PETRONAS engaging in? Renewable Energy, Biomass? Why Biomass? Why not!! We have abundant of Biomass feedstock (especially from palm oil) in this country. Obviously we do not wish to be like the Proton (although R&D on ‘green engines’ such as E01 which runs on natural gas is in the pipeline), at current relies heavily on raw material which originated, most of them from Japan.

In the case of renewable energy, well, one thing for sure it is very costly and at the moment taking into consideration the production cost of solar battery and its storage, engaging in O&G is relatively cheaper. However, with the rising demand in cleaner environment and the recent Najib’s commitment towards reducing CO2 emission, I must say renewable energy on biomass and solar should be looked into thoroughly. Wave and wind…well let just say Malaysia do not have that natural strength. So the best bet at this moment is O&G (or perhaps non fossil fuel energy), with efficient and low CO2, and also biomass (some might against this sbb ada yang kata we should not burn food for fuel/energy). Nuclear….mmm! Enjin Jet F5E pun boleh hilang. Ada berani ke nak maintain nuclear power station? After all TNB pun dah start to acquire technology in nuclear…

And so when PETRONAS decided to end the contract agreement on a renewable energy with Battelle Memorial Institute, Battelle-Japan Corp and Mitsubishi Corporation (which was set in 2007), I just couldn’t understand??


Since government used to have only one company driving its focus area, I would say PETRONAS might in the future need to merge with other energy company i.e. TNB. And should Biomass become government’s focus for the next decade or so, merging with biomass champion such as Sime Darby properties is essential. This effort, combined with reengineering technology, will see a sustainable company that will have a good impact for both energy and food sector in Malaysia.

In Nov 2007, Sime Darby has merged with Guthrie and Golden Hope to become a giant (70% of its profits are anchored in plantations) of the plantation industry. It is reported that the company, formerly known as Synergy Drive, has more than 100 000 employees, total sales of RM34.0 billion and a net income of RM3.7 billion last year. The merger has met its objectives in terms of business size, broader market penetration and wider market segments. Merging is also good for PETRONAS’ sustainability and for a new business direction. Some says that the current management is too attached to the driver that limits their creativity in expanding businesses (which I against this – everyone knows how politician would love to step in to the company’s management).

Rumors are spreading wild that Tan Sri Hassan Merican, which contract will expire in early 2010, is to be replaced by some CEO from other GLC. Siapalah gerangannya ya? Dari Sime Darby (Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubair, orang kuat KJ) ke atau Che Khalib TNB?

I’m just hoping PETRONAS would survive for many more years before government are able to replace it’s ‘beg kantung negara’ to another multinational company. In doing so, let PETRONAS do its works. And please for the sake of the nation, do not remove Tan Sri from his post.


The above post was generated from ‘small’ chat with Prof Riedle, out TP consultant who came recently for 5th round of consultation. Klaus Riedle is a mechanical engineer and a honorary professor, used to head the Power Generation Division, Siemen AG, Germany. In honor of his contribution to gas turbine development, Riedle was awarded the Global Energy International Prize (a sort of Nobel Prize for energy technology, which is endowed with 1 mill. US-$) in St. Petersburg in June 2005. He shared his prize money with Russian Nobel laureate Zhores Alferov. 

Some fact of the Prof, as describes at: (http://w1.siemens.com/innovation/en/publikationen/

P/s - Hacker won't stop me from generating posting articles e.g. the last two posts. I will continue contributing as and when necessary


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