FUELS: PETRONAS

Name: Petronas

Petronas (Petroliam Nasional Berhard) was given ownership of all Malaysia's oil and gas resources in 1974 and has since expanded to become a major player on the international oil market with ventures all over the world. The corporation at first built up its activities within Malaysia and in 1990 began to expand its activities internationally. It now operates in more than 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.

Traditionally a very conservative company, Petronas began a much more aggressive international expansion in 1995 after the appointment of Hassan Marican as chief executive officer. He embarked on a globalisation programme with the long team aim of turning the company into a multinational oil giant, with 30% of its revenues coming from overseas by the year 2005. Marican embarked on a policy of exploration to increase the company's long-term reserves.

In an effort to publicise the company Petronas decided to embark on a Formula 1 project with Sauber. While international exposure from the primary aim, the company also decided to use F1 to increase Malaysian knowledge of automotive engineering technology via an engine-building partner with Sauber, called Sauber Petronas Engineering. This designed a new family of engines for the Malaysian national car company Proton, to provide a solid foundation for country's car industry. There were plans for Sauber Petronas Engineering to build its own Formula 1 engines but these were shelved after the Asian currency crisis in 1998.

Petronas has played an important role in helping Malaysia through the crisis and is funding some of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad's ambitious projects to turn the country into a fully industrialised high technology centre by the year 2020.

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