KUALA LUMPUR: Skilled local workforce has helped major oil and gas (O&G) cushion the global weak oil prices, ringgit fluctuations and foreign exchange (forex losses) over the past few years.
Analysts said companies such as Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), Sapura Energy Bhd, Alam Maritim Bhd, Barakah Offshore Bhd and others has hired local professionals and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) graduates to reduce costs, which is part of the companies’ cost cutting measures.
Sunway University Business School Professor of Economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the O&G sector is a very specialised high technology sector which requires a lot of specialised skills to work at oil rigs and fabrication yards.
“In the early days, these niche areas required foreign expertise and was dominated by expatriates but now firms such as Petronas and Sapura no longer hire foreign professionals but source local engineers from the O&G field.
“This in turn has enabled the country to save a lot in terms of foreign exchange as it is very expensive to pay the foreign engineers.
“Now Malaysia is able to produce its own local oil and gas engineers, technicians and supervisors,” Yeah told NST Business recently.
Yeah added the sector is also a hotbed for hundreds of TVET graduates every year to fill in various positions across the entire oil and gas supply chain both in Malaysia and abroad.
“Petronas and other companies for example are growing globally and they are helping the country’s workforce by employing some of these TVET graduates to work on oil rigs and at fabrication yards,” he said.
Meanwhile, an O&G engineer at Jurunature Sdn Bhd said the sector is growing robustly all over the world and it will require TVET graduates fill up the various portfolios available all over the world.
“Petronas for example is a Forbes 100 company with oil and gas exploration activities all over the world and it will farm out all the contracts to O&G firms such as Jurunature, Barakah Offshore, Sapura and foreign players as well.
He added many O&G firms are also teaming up with foreign players to save cost as well as tap and leverage on each other’s strengths and synergies.
“It has been tough for some O&G companies, and some have even closed shop. But for others, they team up to prepare for the tough road ahead such as Petronas which is expanding in various countries as well as Sapura which recently teamed up with Sapura OMV,” said the engineer.
Meanwhile a source at Petronas said the national oil firm is committed in collaborating with TVET graduates via the Petronas Training Institute to produce quality O&G workforce.
However Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Associate Professor Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul said more can be done to help TVET graduates as the contributions by the institute is minimal.
“Petronas can do more by introducing an apprenticeship programme to help them secure jobs once they graduate from TVET institutes.
“Petronas can implement the national dual training system which absorbs the graduates into the sector and become part of the country’s oil and gas workforce,” he said.