Two Abangs the pick of former, current oilmen for Petros CEO job

Abang Arabi Abang Narudin -

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KUCHING: Of the hundreds of former and “recently retired” Sarawakian oil and gas executives touted as possible chief executive officer of the newly formed state-owned Sarawak oil company Petros, two names seemed to stand out among their peers.

The names frequently bandied about as being with the “right credential” to helm the company are the two Abangs – Abang Arabi Abang Narudin and Abang Abdul Aziz Abang Mohammed.

They however, do not fall into the category of “former and recently retired executives”.

Abang Arabi is currently Petronas’ head of business development – upstream – and is based at the national oil company’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, a position he held since July.

Though he has only seven years of oil and gas experience, his peers who are backing him said that seven years is a “plus” as it showed “he is still young” coupled with the fact he has extensive international exposure in the oil and gas industry.

Abang Arabi’s first oil and gas job was when he joined Shell Global Solutions, a unit of Shell, in 2010 as its business development head.

This University of Wisconsin graduate was with Shell for two years before he moved on to join Petronas as the Country Head of Petronas Carigali Canada Ltd in July 2012.

Promotion came quick. By December 2012, he was vice president, new ventures and deep basin business of Progress Energy Canada Ltd, another unit of Petronas.

He held the post for 17 months before he was promoted as vice president, strategy and new ventures in April 2014, a position he held for three and a half years before he was promoted to his current position and recalled back to Malaysia.

“He has all the things going for him to be the CEO of Petros,” one ex-oil man said on condition he not be identified due to his unflattery view of Petronas.

“He is young, has extensive upstream experience which should be an important consideration if he were to head an upstream company.

“And he has a lot of international exposure, another important factor.

“Generally, I have a poor opinion of people who work in Petronas.

“When Petronas was formed, most of the pioneering executives then were former civil servants who were seconded to help the fledgling national oil company get on its feet.

“What happened is that these executives brought with them the work ethics of the civil service – slow, cumbersome as they have a deep infinitive penchant for bureaucracy and red tapes, and they often spend lots of time politicking to get up the proverbial ladder.

“As a result Petronas does not have the work culture of the multi-nationals and their executives do not have the mindset to be competitive overseas.

“They are just jaguh kampung (village champions), good only in the country but when they are sent overseas to a different working environment, they are all at sea.”

He said even though Abang Arabi spent most of his time in Petronas, he could be different as the Kuching boy not only joined a multi-national upon graduation, he spent most of his working time with Petronas overseas.

Abang Abdul Aziz, currently the group chief executive officer at Integrated Petroleum Services (IPS) KL, a company that provides support services to the oil and gas industry in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region, is another oil and gas man with international working exposure.

This University of Wales bachelor of mechanical engineering graduate was Scomi Oiltools senior vice president and head of Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) from January 2006 to January 2008 before joining IPS.

He started as IPS’ chief operating officer before becoming its group CEO in October 2013.

Since IPS’ main business activities are in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry and some of the services it offers like chartering and management of drilling rigs, chartering and management of offshore support vessels, well, reservoir and integrated field management services, offshore engineering services should come in handy in his resume.

Abang Abdul Aziz is also familiar in the bidding and tendering process in the oil and gas industry as IPS, an approved vendor to Petronas, actively participates in the bidding and tendering process to provide support services to Petronas and/or its production sharing contract (PSC) operators such as Petronas Carigali, Shell, Talisman, ExxonMobil, Murphy Oil, Newfield, PCPP, CPOC, Carigali Hess and Hess.

“These two are young and not known to have “any baggage” – political affiliations,” another former oil man said.

“They are true professionals with relevant experience.

“Good for Petros to start with new, young blood.” –