Petronas pumps $60 million into Italian research centre

PETROLIAM Nasional Bhd (Petronas), through its subsidiary, Petronas Lubricants International Sdn Bhd (PLI), has invested US$60 million (RM240 million) to build a state-of-the-art global research and technology (R&T) centre for lubricants in Turin, Italy.

Vice-president for downstream marketing Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said the investment reflects Petronas' commitment to investing in future technology, especially in carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction.

“It is an investment for the future, by investing in technology for the future. We believe the time has come for Petronas to make a commitment and cement this on the ground, so that it (R&T centre) becomes not only a platform for petrol, but also lubricants,” he told Malaysian media in Turin after launching the centre yesterday.

He said the centre's location, in close proximity to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) offices in the region, will enable better interaction with customers “When we have a facility like this, it gives us more opportunity to get closer to our customers.”

PLI group chief executive officer Giuseppe D'Arrigo said the centre is key to the company’s efforts to champion CO2 reduction. “We have quadrupled our investment in research and development (R&D) since 2015 and made a pledge to spend 75% of our R&D, starting this year, towards CO2 reduction.”

He said having the R&T centre located in Turin enables the company to leverage the city’s expertise in automotive engineering. “Turin is the world’s automotive capital, with all the major OEMs in this area. They are excellent in terms of engineering and capabilities.”

He said PLI also has R&T centres in Malaysia, China, Brazil, the US and South Africa, and will open another centre in India this year. Asked about the possibility of having PLI listed, Syed Zainal Abidin said the possibility is always there, should the opportunity arise and the timing be right.

He said the company's current focus is to build the brand and capability of PLI, and to make it the preferred choice among vehicles owners. PLI’s presence spans 90 countries, with products ranging from automotive fluids to industrial lubricants.