KUALA LUMPUR (Business) – The chief executive of Malaysian state energy firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd, or Petronas, will soon step down after five years at the helm, state media reported on Saturday.
Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin will resign as president and chief executive officer, and will be succeeded by an internal candidate, state news agency Bernama said, citing unidentified sources.
The reported resignation comes at a challenging time for Petronas as low oil prices, weak demand and the coronavirus pandemic lower profits. It also follows a string of changes at state agencies since a new government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin came into power in March.
The chief executive position at Petronas, fully owned by the Malaysian government, is a prime ministerial appointment. Wan Zulkiflee’s term as CEO was renewed in 2018 for three years.
Petronas declined to comment on “market rumour or speculation”.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wan Zul, as he is known, is a Petronas veteran, joining the company in 1983 as a process engineer and working his way up through the ranks.
He took over as CEO in 2015 and led the company through a period of tumultuous oil prices.
Benchmark Brent crude plunged to near 12-year lows soon after he took over, forcing Petronas to cut $12 billion from costs and thousands of jobs for the first time.
Wan Zul championed an ambitious $27 billion oil refinery and petrochemical project with partner Saudi Aramco in the southern Malaysian state of Johor. Under his leadership, Petronas also expanded internationally.
As oil prices crashed again this year to below $20 per barrel and profits fell 68% in the first quarter, Wan Zul said Petronas will optimise costs and international capital expenditure.
Petronas is the sole manager of Malaysia’s oil and gas reserves, and a key source of government revenues.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)