Petronas Lubricants International inaugurates new Global Research and Technology Centre

Petronas Lubricants International (PLI) inaugurated its new USD 60 million Global Research and Technology Centre in Turin, Italy, last week, strengthening the company’s global position in the lubricants business.

PLI, which was established in 2008 following the acquisition of FL Selenia SpA by Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company, Petronas in 2007, produces a range of industrial and automotive lubricants. It sells to about 90 markets worldwide.

“Our partners, clients and customers would like to see a level of commitment from us and this is proof of our commitment to step up to a higher level,” said Petronas Vice-President for Marketing Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

“This would enable us to work closer with them to produce better lubricants to better compete, especially in terms of carbon dioxide level reductions as there is a lot of focus on that, particularly in Europe,” he said.

Turin, a major automotive center in Italy, being the headquarters of Fiat, was chosen for the location of this research facility. PLI have lubricant blending plants in Turin and Naples.

“All the major original equipment manufacturers are in this area and it offers excellent access to engineering capabilities,” said PLI Group Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe D’ Arrigo. “We also want to be closer to our customers and clients. So, it is proximity to the customer and proximity to our knowledge base which is here.”

Syed Zainal Abidin told journalists during a press briefing that revenue growth for PLI growth was about 4% last year, which is higher than the industry average of 1% to 2%.

He added that eventually, parent Petronas may decide to float PLI, after further building up its lubricants business portfolio.

“We never discount the opportunities and have to look at (it) when the timing is right. But the focus today is to build the brand and capability,” Syed Zainal Abidin said.

The potential listing would involve going public in an international capital market such as Hong Kong to help bolster PLI’s stature as an international company, he said.