More on the mysterious oil subsidies


Some more light on this mysterious subsidy thing:

Most of the country’s oil fields contain low-sulfur, high quality “sweet” crude. Malaysia exports the majority of its oil to Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.

This from The Star:

Commenting on the fuel price increase, the Petronas boss said the corporation did not make a sen from the increase.

“All the oil companies get full market price for the petrol and diesel that they sell and the Government pay them the difference from the fixed price. This is where the subsidy comes into play,” he added.

So, if I read him correctly, there are actual subsidy payments to the oil companies – the difference between the market price and the price at the pump. (Does that mean we are also paying foreign oil companies a subsidy for the privilege of selling oil in the domestic market at a discounted rate?) Now, what I want to know is how much did the government pay each oil company in subsidies? Come on, give us the full picture, the breakdown of subsidies to each oil company, facts and figures.

Asked about criticisms that Petronas’ accounts and profits were not transparent, Hassan said the corporation published a very detailed annual report which was deposited in the Parliament library.

“For all intents and purposes, Petronas is a public-listed company because we are rated by agencies like Standard and Poors, and Moody. We do not hide anything,” he added.

That is being disingenuous. That glossy annual report doesn’t tell you much. From what I see, it just shows certain financial highlights such as profit before tax etc.

What we want to see are the detailed accounts. You know, like a detailed profit and loss account – not some summary financial highlights. I for one would like to look at the detailed operating and administrative expenses and the investments in fixed assets to see if everything is above board.

And while we are at it, let us have a look at the auditor’s report. How independent is the auditor?

This is the people’s money we are talking about. There must be greater transparency than what we have seen so far.

Now I know those in favour of removing subsidies say the rich, with bigger cars, are often the greatest beneficiaries of oil subsidies. And I can see their point of view. A more accurate market price for oil would encourage conservation and all that. The removal of subsidies would also make us regard oil as the scarce resource that it is especially in the face of increasing difficulty of finding new easily recoverable oil reserves to meet rising global demand. Heck, it might even save the planet from global warming. All these are important considerations. I have always believed in advocating people-centred development that is less polluting and damaging to the environment. Reducing our fossil fuel dependency would be a great step in that direction.

But to raise the price by 40 per cent at one go – when you know that is going to have a sharp knock-on effect on the prices of other essentials and hurt the lower-income group – does not make sense. Especially when the government has not put in place efficient public transport options – and is not likely to do so, given its record. Neither does it inspire confidence that it will effectively empower the poor with the additional resources now at its disposal.

In the first place, are the present high oil prices realistic – or driven by speculation? Listen to what Malaysia Airlines CEO Idris Jala says – and I agree with him:

He said the present oil price at over US$135 was unrealistic and based on certain global events that might have caused a shortage of supply.

“These people (speculators and hedge funds) buy oil futures and say that this or that event may cause an oil shortage.

“Not very long after this, people react to this and by then the message would be ‘there is a shortage of supply’ even though there is none,”…

Speaking as a former oilman, Idris said there were two ways to see whether there was an oil shortage.

“First, look at the oil tankers at sea. If they are not moving and just floating out at sea, that means they have no crude or processed oil to transport. That is not happening and that means there is no shortage.

“Second, go to the petrol stations. If there are long queues, that means there is a shortage. Again, this is not happening and this can only mean there is more than enough supply.

“As an ex-oilman, I tell you there is no shortage.”

Idris pointed out that certain analysts and financial companies that produced reports about the shortage were also oil futures traders.

Asked what he thought was the fair value of crude oil at present, Idris replied: “US$40.”

Idris confirms what I have believed all along. It all boils down to a cheaper US dollar, weak US equity and housing sectors fuelling speculation in safe havens such as commodity futures and hedge funds (including oil and food).

Check out the view of one analyst, Mike Whitney:

The Commodity Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating trading in oil futures to determine whether the surge in prices to record levels is the result of manipulation or fraud. They might want to take a look at wheat, rice and corn futures while they’re at it. The whole thing is a hoax cooked up by the investment banks and hedge funds who are trying to dig their way out of the trillion dollar mortgage-backed securities (MBS) mess that they created by turning garbage loans into securities. That scam blew up in their face last August and left them scrounging for handouts from the Federal Reserve. Now the billions of dollars they’re getting from the Fed is being diverted into commodities which is destabilizing the world economy; driving gas prices to the moon and triggering food riots across the planet.

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OM Saigal
2 Oct 2014 3.21pm

Just talking nonsense & more lies when he know that economics is the study of scarcity…Senior folks know exactly what is the matter….Is it the politics of corruption, collusion & nepotism as retired lawyers sit & discuss? Bob Marley sang “Action speaks louder than words”……..Retired professionals should stand up & use their invaluable knowledge as someone else had paid for their study…pay it forward…..

9 Jun 2008 12.44am

just change. change govt i mean.

9 Jun 2008 12.03am

What sort of logic is this?>> “First, look at the oil tankers at sea. If they are not moving and just floating out at sea, that means they have no crude or processed oil to transport. That is not happening and that means there is no shortage. “Second, go to the petrol stations. If there are long queues, that means there is a shortage. Again, this is not happening and this can only mean there is more than enough supply. “As an ex-oilman, I tell you there is no shortage.” >Cant he picture the shortage which arise from a sudden… Read more »

Samuel Goh Kim Eng
Samuel Goh Kim Eng
8 Jun 2008 11.12pm

When we talk about oil subsidy
There’ll always be some mystery
What you see are only figures tidy
While the rest are hidden in some ministry

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 080608
Sun. 8th June 2008.

raj raman666
raj raman666
8 Jun 2008 9.43pm

Everythings going up but nothing come down except spending power. I am very very efficient wents comes to works.I dont have a driver althou i can afford one.With small company specialised and honour my words i survive throu many hard times but this hikes 1.My cost of travelling up by $1.00 perliter (use foor wheel drive diesel engine.) 2.My supplier just refused to supply some materials for my work until the supplier work out a formula to increase their running cost.(solve immediately by giving in whatever price) 3.In between i need to continue work or jobless which all my workers… Read more »

8 Jun 2008 7.33pm

The world will never learn,take the greedy producer’s if they would have upped their production n flooded the market we would have seen the last of these speculators.

Johnny Cheah
Johnny Cheah
8 Jun 2008 5.35pm

Don’t waste time, just get the guy to resign. Into his 2nd. term and what did he gave us. Big price increase for petrol and diesel. During his 1st. term he gave us 30 cents increase for petrol. If you can remember, that increase is the highest that Malaysia Have experience. To the BN parliamentarians come on don’t waste time. Join Paakatan Rakyat. It is your duty to do good for the people and country

8 Jun 2008 5.21pm

After reading all the comments, I can see that we are all shooting the stars. The plain truth is this “Ask no questions and Hear No Lies”. The key word is actually “Subsidy” which has no meaning unless the truth is told. We have Petronas CEO saying they don’t make a sen even with the petrol skyrocketing…..But Badawi is saving RM13 billion per month on subsidy( correct me if I am wrong). So the figures don’t add up. The next question is, if Petronas don’t make the extras where was the Subsidies going to……? Huh, our BN Govt. is paying… Read more »

raj raman666
raj raman666
8 Jun 2008 5.20pm

Recall back,

If i am not wrong IDRIS JALA was appointed to clean up mess created by TAJUDDIN RAMLI.

IN between his employment the brainless people want him to resign because he have the brain…

So check it out-its true why the majority brainless people dont hire the minority with brain.
I follows up about IDRIS JALA employment time and the political master warlords (in this case AAB very persistent to keep idris jala) pressure for him to leave MAS.

Rajraman.Ocassionally got brain to recall.

8 Jun 2008 5.02pm

Scrap the NS programme to save money!

8 Jun 2008 4.39pm

the govt brings hassan out to spin trying to add some credibility to their reasoning for the whopping hike. tell you what, hassan is just trying to bulls*** and I am prepared to debate with him;me a novice and he an oilman and lets see who is right. simply, take 2007 position. Petronas paid a whopping RM50 billion to the government representing more than 30% of the federal revenue. Now, whats the price of petroleum then. Average US$55 per barrel? After paying the federal government, how much did Petronas make? More than RM30 billion, if I am not mistaken. Fast… Read more »

raj raman666
raj raman666
8 Jun 2008 2.53pm

Very detail write up,



rajraman666-people like u soon be a extinct from Malaysia because the goverment dont need people like u with brain asking question.(ITS A SURVIVAL FACTORS AND THE MAJORITY IS BRAINLESS,So you or others with brain is minority)

Juan Taman
Juan Taman
8 Jun 2008 2.03pm

It sounds like a conspiracy theory.How should Malaysia deal with it? We seem to react by subsidising or not subsidising the price.What is the Nation’s long term plan in dealing with problem of relying on oil. What alternative do we have? I have yet to know the views of BN and the Opposition!
Both side seems to be bugged with the quantum of “subsidy”! Does the Nation have any “wise” man around?

8 Jun 2008 9.32am

When truth fails in leaders’ lips Holes after holes they dig Finally they can’t do it There is no ground to hoe Then the rain falling They see the water clogged holes They get wet soaking it through Now they understand Losing hundreds of billions They have to off-load somewhere Artificial manipulation in markets It is for the sole purpose to profit The future traders and investment banks They lie and they cheat to pocket it Losses hard to swallow In this way recovery can be met At the expense of the people Around the world Our BN government telling… Read more »

Concerned Malaysians
Concerned Malaysians
8 Jun 2008 9.30am

Well done! For enlighting the Rakyat with facts & sense!

Just not like what is or was being uttered by the most unpopular PM (in the history of Malaysia premiership) with wishy-washy and pack of lies to the Rakyat!!!

8 Jun 2008 4.46am

Whitney reports “The Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating trading in oil futures …..” was filed last week and surfice to say, the hounds are on the loose. Signs are, members of Congress are just as worried as any of us that oil futures show an upward trajectory. State side, there would be some positions unwinding for fear of entities/players running foul of the tax man but other than that, it would be highly unlikely/difficult to prove collusion or price manipulation. Of course, mine is just one opinion and I could be proven wrong. It is a good… Read more »

8 Jun 2008 3.00am

I would just like to touch on the last part of your post… While I also agree that its excessive speculation that has driven the oil price to its current levels, the fact remains that oil is actually selling above $100 barrel. We can choose to consume it, OR sell it at this time of high prices (artifically high prices due to speculation do not last long) and put the money to good use. Like public transport, universities, medical schools, even buying assets overseas (that will generate a steady flow of dividens back to the govt), etc. The real problem… Read more »

8 Jun 2008 1.30am

Way to go brother. At least I know I’m not alone calling out loud for Petronas to reveal their books. These “book keepers” operate on the principle that they could remain kings if they keep the public unaware of their book keeping methods.

8 Jun 2008 12.48am

Merican has been too well house-trained to indulge in Govt double-speak. He has been at his job too long and needs to be replaced so that a new broom can come in and sweep out the cobwebs at Petronas. It has been proven everywhere in the world that it’s too dangerous to allow one man anything more than 10 years in his office e.g. our own Samy Velu, Rafidah Aziz and Dr. Mahathir and say, M.Green, CEO of AIG USA. Rumours are that Petronas is over-staffed by at least 1/3. Besides funding PMB (leases planes to MAS) & Prasarna (buses)… Read more »