KUALA LUMPUR (AFX-ASIA) – National oil corporation Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) will maintain its oil exploration and production budget at RM6 billion, president and chief executive officer Mohd Hassan Marican said. (US$1=RM3.8).

“We have been setting aside 6 bln rgt for exploration and budget activities for many years. There is nothing special,” he said when asked to comment on speculation that Petronas will increase its allocation for exploration.

He also said the Petronas wants to keep its oil output at the current level of 650,000-700,000 barrels per day.

“At the moment, we are producing 650,000-700,000 barrels per day. We have no intention to increase that,” Mohd Hassan told reporters after unit Petronas Gas Bhd’s recent annual meeting.

He said keeping the output and the existing level will prolong the life of the country’s current oil reserves.

Mr Hassan also denied earlier news reports and speculation that the corporation will offer some RM2-3 billion worth of contracts to firms involved in the oil and gas support services sector.

On the corporation’s other plans going forward, he said Petronas also hopes to assist in promoting the development of “petrochemical derivatives” and may enter into joint ventures with companies in the business.

As for unit Petronas Gas, he said there are no plans to boost capcity given the national fuel policy, although it is operating near optimum level.

He said, if need be, Petronas Gas can always import gas or bring it in from the company’s joint development area.