Petronas president and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin

THERE are certainly many things on his plate but Petronas president and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin certainly looks more confident in guiding the oil giant at least in the next three years.

When he took over in April 2015, the company was beset with an oil price slide. His immediate task was to tide over the trying times and to stay profitable.

The crude oil prices have since recovered and improved further last year on the back of demand driven by India and China.

But that does not mean Petronas is losing its focus to manage cost and remain prudent while continuing to invest for the future.

There should not be the overexuberance that seems to be creeping back in some other oil and gas players.

“We must continue to stay the course,” the chemical engineer by training told a group of editors last week.

While oil and gas will remain the bread and butter of Petronas, Wan Zul says the future is to invest more in new technology, rather than just being a technology follower.

He charted out three growth strategies for Petronas. Firstly, to maximise cash generation and secondly, expand the core business such as exploring oil in new places such as Mexico and going further downstream.

Lastly, Petronas will also seek investments in renewable energy but so far will not quantify the amount of investments or the specific sectors.

Closer to home, Petronas will work closely with state entities but it has to be based on the existing regulatory framework under the Petroleum Development Act 1974.

The last thing that we want to see is the risk of policy uncertainty that might deter foreign oil and gas players from investing in Malaysia.

For Wan Zul, it is a huge challenge running a billion-dollar company, with 51,000 people working for it and some 30 million more depending on its continued well-being.

He has shown his mettle in managing the national firm.

A Jalil Hamid feels in a digital world, the winner does not always take all. He can be reached via jalil@nst.com.my

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