KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional (Petronas) is in talks with several companies to sell a 10-12 percent stake in its planned $11 billion Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, the state firm said on Wednesday, as it announced a fall in its first-quarter net profit.
Net profit in the January to March period fell 8 percent to 16.2 billion ringgit ($5 billion) from 17.6 billion ringgit the previous year, Petronas said in a briefing, attributing the fall to higher operating expenses.
It said revenues rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier to 84 billion ringgit on improved production and stronger trading of petroleum products.
Petronas has been selling down its stake in the Canadian LNG export terminal in order to share the cost of bringing cheap energy to Asia.
It took a major step towards its goal of selling 50 percent in April when it announced that China’s Sinopec Group and a Chinese state-owned power group would buy a 15 percent stake in the Pacific NorthWest LNG export facility.
“The idea is to reach up to 50 percent. We are in the process and talking to 3-4 companies to take up an additional 10 percent,” Petronas Chief Executive Shamsul Azhar Abbas told reporters.
“We’re taking our time. If the price is right and there’s a good deal, but there’s no hurry.”
Petronas made a big push into the Canadian energy sector in 2012, acquiring Progress Energy for C$5.2 billion ($4.76 billion) in a deal that gave Malaysia’s only Fortune 500 firm access to shale properties in northeastern British Columbia.
Petronas, which finances more than a third of Malaysia’s government budget via dividends, said its total oil and gas production in the first quarter rose 4.9 percent to 2.26 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. That was driven partly by the resumption of production in South Sudan, new production coming online in Iraq and new gas production in Malaysia, it said.
In addition to its Canadian foray, Petronas has invested heavily in Iraqi oilfields and ramped up exploration in Malaysia as part of its five-year, 300 billion ringgit capital expenditure programme that ends in 2015. (Reporting By Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Muralikumar Anantharaman)