BY the arrest of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at about 1.00pm today -- an hour before the deadline to appear at the Police Hq in Jalan Hang Tuah, Kuala Lumpur for a statement he had agreed to give on alleged sodomy complaint by a former aide, Saiful SoB.
I was relaxing at lunchtime trying to digest the numbers of Petronas' windfall nett profits of RM61billion for FYE March 2008 when I received an SMS stating that the PKR de facto leader had been arrested soon after he was returning home to Gombak having given an initial statement to the ACA at Putrajaya relating to his report against the IGP and AG for falsifying reports in the 1999 Black Eye incident-- this I will leave for a separate story.
I was also busy trying to coordinate a review/feedback (surf to www.cpiasia.net for a peep!...) on Anwar's successful TV outing at the DBP debating with the Information Minister for an hour from 9PM which was telecast live by several TV stations, and an issue that featured prominently was about PETRONAS'handsome profits the past few years --- and the poser on most Malaysian minds aptly asked by Anwar was:
Where has all the BILIIONS of ringgit that the Government had/has received from the national oil corporation every year gone?
I will leave my ER with the following foreign newsagency report, and come back, InsyaAllah, for further comment after digestion, or should it be INdigestion?
Petronas posts record profit of RM61b
KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — National oil company Petronas reported a record annual profit today and said it is assessing the viability of a proposed gas project in Iran following the pullout of French energy giant Total SA.
Net profit soared 31.5 per cent to RM61 billion in the financial year ended March 31, while revenue jumped 21 per cent to RM223.1 billion, said Petronas chief executive and president Tan Sri Hassan Marican.
He said Petronas remains keen on investing in Iran but reiterated it hasn't decided whether to proceed with plans to develop a liquid natural gas project linked to Iran's South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf.
Total last week said political conditions were not right for investing in Iran now, marking the latest defection of a Western oil firm from a project in the Islamic republic.
"We continue to be interested in Iran," Hassan told a news conference.
"But on the LNG project specifically, where we are in a consortium with Total, I have said previously we cannot come to a final decision on that project because of the increase in cost and because we have not completed our discussions with the Iranians," he said.
Total and other oil companies have come under pressure from the United States over their activities in Iran as tension has been building up over the country's nuclear programme.
The US, Israel and other countries fear Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at building weapons; Tehran insists it is for producing nuclear energy.
With global oil prices remaining high, Hassan said Petronas sold Malaysian crude oil at an average of US$86.81 per barrel during last fiscal year, up 26.7 per cent from the previous year.
This boosted government coffers as Petronas paid 63 per cent of its pretax profit, or RM67.6 billion, in taxes, royalties, dividends and export duty for the just-ended year, he said.
That includes a RM6 billion special dividend following its record profit, he said.
Petronas, Malaysia's only Fortune 500 company and the country's most profitable, retained only 29.2 per cent of its profit for reinvestment, much lower compared to other oil majors, he said. The balance was used to pay foreign taxes and minority interests.
"A total of 44 per cent of federal government revenue comes from Petronas group," Hassan told a news conference.
"There are some people who say we should give every single cent but we need to reinvest to sustain future revenue stream, to sustain production of oil and gas so we can continue to pay the government in the future."
Hassan's comments were aimed at rebutting critics who want Petronas funds to be used to subsidise retail fuel prices. The government last month hiked petrol prices by 41 per cent and diesel by 63 per cent.
Hassan said Petronas spent RM37.6 billion in capital expenditure and investments during the year, up about a third from the previous year. It secured 13 new production-sharing pacts abroad over the year, bringing its global upstream ventures to 63 in 23 countries.
International operations, mainly in Africa, emerged as the biggest contributor to Petronas revenue for the first time, accounting for 40 per cent, he said. Exports make up nearly 39 per cent of total revenue, and domestic operations about 21 per cent, he said.
Hassan warned Malaysia will be a net importer of crude oil by 2011 if domestic demand continues to grow at 6 per cent annually and by 2014 if demand slows to 4 per cent a year.
As at Jan 1, 2008, Malaysia had 5.46 billion barrels of crude oil and condensate reserves. — AP