KUALA LUMPUR: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), which yesterday reported a 68 per cent year-on-year decline in first-quarter (Q1) profit, sees a very challenging outlook for the rest of this year, with economic activities expected to only recover gradually in the second half of 2020.

President and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said industry players, including the state-owned oil and gas company, would be adversely impacted if the current market situation persisted and oil prices remained low.

Today, Brent crude oil price declined 4.66 per cent to $34.38 per barrel.

“Against this challenging backdrop, our focus is to preserve cash and maintain our liquidity, continue our cost compression efforts and respond to changing market conditions with pace,” he said in a statement today.

He said Petronas would also continue to uphold the health and safety of its people and communities where it operated as well as contribute towards efforts in overcoming the global pandemic.

Petronas announced that its profit after tax fell to RM4.5 billion in Q1 ended March 31, 2020, from RM14.2 billion a year earlier, primarily due to net impairment on assets and lower revenue recorded; but this was partially offset by lower tax expenses.

Revenue decreased four per cent to RM59.6 billion from RM62.0 billion previously mainly attributable to the impact of lower average realised prices recorded for liquefied natural gas, petroleum products and crude oil and condensates.

The drop was partially offset by the impact of higher sales volume mainly for petroleum products coupled with the effect of the weakening ringgit against the US dollar exchange rate.

Wan Zulkiflee said in the longer term, Petronas remained committed to its three-pronged growth strategy — maximise cash generators, expand core business and stepping out to future proof the organisation, and ensure the company’s long-term sustainability. – Bernama