PETRONAS Widens Talent Search, Offers Overseas Graduates Sponsorship


Driven by a desire to grow its workforce to cope with an expansion in the company’s operations worldwide, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) is offering sponsorship to overseas graduates who are keen to embark on a career with Malaysia’s national oil and gas firm.

PETRONAS, established in 1974 by the Malaysian government as the country’s national oil company (NOC), is currently one of the world’s most profitable firms and one of the most successful NOCs globally. It ranked 75 among the world’s largest corporations in 2012, with a revenue of $94.3 billion and was the 19th most profitable firm with net proceeds of $16 billion, according to the 2013 Fortune Global 500 survey.

Among its peers in the petroleum industry, the Fortune Global 500 survey placed PETRONAS – wholly-owned by the Malaysian government – as the sixth most profitable company in 2012, after Exxon Mobil Corp., OAO Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Chevron Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp., but ahead of Total S.A.


Demand for a skilled workforce has risen in tandem with an expansion in the firm’s upstream and downstream business activities, both locally and overseas, as PETRONAS strives to become “a leading oil and gas multinational of choice,” the company indicated on its website. Petronas hired more in 2012 as a result of increased business activities, with its workforce rising 6.7 percent to 46,145, up from 43,266 in 2011.

In an industry afflicted by a global shortage of skilled workers – a situation exacerbated by an aging workforce worldwide – job opportunities exist for qualified talents, including young graduates in PETRONAS’ various business units.

Such vacancies could, for example, be found in the company’s exploration and production (E&P) sector, whereby PETRONAS employed about 10,500 staff – accounting for 22.7 percent of its total workforce in 2012, for the firm’s 162 operating and non-operating upstream assets located in 23 countries, including Asia, Australia, Middle East, Africa and the Americas.


The dynamic PETRONAS E&P sector helped the company achieve a 5.8 percent increase in petroleum production in 2012 to 2.127 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (MMboepd), compared to the previous year’s 2.01 MMboepd. New production from Iraq’s Garraf and Majnoon fields last August and October, respectively together with first oil from Malaysia’s Balai field as well as the Kapal, Banang & Merantai (KBM) Cluster fields in late 2013 also contributed to the increase.

With PETRONAS expected to be engaged in more upstream projects in Malaysia and around the world, the availability of appropriate staffing would be needed to ensure operational efficiency.

In its downstream sector, PETRONAS operates three oil refineries in Malaysia and one in South Africa, while holding stakes in a few local petrochemical plants. The company’s April 4 announcement on the approval of a Final Investment Decision (FID) to develop the 6,242-acre Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in southern Johor, Malaysia, is likely to increase demand for skilled workers to operate the project that is scheduled to commence operations in 2019.

The PIC project comprises a world scale Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID), with a capacity of 300,000 barrels-per-day and 7.7 million tons per annum, respectively, including associated facilities. RAPID’s development cost is estimated at around $16 billion while investment in the associated facilities is expected to reach around $11 billion.

“In its operational stage, the PIC will require 4,000 employees,” the Malaysian NOC said in its statement.


Recruiting suitable skilled employees has been a major priority for Asia’s oil and gas industry since this could impact directly on growth in the sector. Skills shortages and/or aging workforce was ranked after operating costs as the second most critical barrier to the industry’s growth in the region this year, Norway’s DNV GL pointed out in its “Challenging Climates: The Outlook for the Oil and Gas Industry in 2014” report.


Based on its observation, the Malaysian NOC has identified 13 job types that the global oil and gas industry needs to fill urgently, which include:

  • Geologist
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Asset Management (Integrated Process Engineer)
  • Techno Commercial
  • Marketing
  • Logistics
  • Plant Operations (Petrochemical)
  • Health, Safety & Environment
  • Marine Operations (LNG)
  • Tax & Accounting


Talent management is a key pillar in the firm’s business growth as PETRONAS recognizes that “an organization is only as good as its talents.” To help expand its global talent pool, the company developed the PETRONAS Overseas Talent Sponsorship (POTS) program.

Through the POTS program, PETRONAS intends to cultivate innovation through diversity. The firm hopes to harness the diverse set of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds of the POTS candidates to drive innovation and spur new ideas which contribute to business sustainability.

“This is part of PETRONAS’ sourcing strategy, better known as PETRONAS Global Talent Strategy, to build and grow our own timber. This is also to show that PETRONAS is a global player, which upholds workforce diversity and innovation through diversity,” the company explained.

PETRONAS set out to achieve several objectives through the POTS program:

  • To source and acquire potential multinational talents to support the PETRONAS Global Talent Strategy
  • To build a talent pool to realize the global expansion and ensure sustainability of PETRONAS’ businesses
  • To leverage on the PETRONAS Education Sponsorship Program to promote PETRONAS’ branding through scholarship program
  • To support the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP)’s vision to be an internationally-recognized higher learning institution as a partner of choice for the oil and gas industry and a respected member of scientific communities by 2025

Under POTS, successful overseas candidates will be offered an 18-month development program covering a comprehensive on-boarding course as well as leadership and development stimulations. In addition, they will pursue a post-graduate Master of Science (MSc.) program at UTP in one of the following disciplines: petroleum engineering, process integration, petroleum geosciences, asset management and maintenance, and process control.

PETRONAS revealed that another MSc. program in drilling might be added to the existing POTS disciplines, subject to approval by the Ministry of Education in Malaysia.

The subjects offered at UTP, which was established in 1997, under the POTS program was chosen because “these areas are considered critical in PETRONAS and highly-demanded by the company,” the firm explained.


It has already selected the first batch of POTS applicants, who will commence their program in May. The 11 POTS scholarship holders are from Britain, Colombia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. Six of these candidates will pursue a MSc. course in petroleum geoscience, three in asset management and maintenance, and the remaining two in petroleum engineering.

The firm expects POTS recipients to add to the diversity among international students now studying at UTP, where currently the “majority … come from non-developed countries especially from where Petronas operates,” the firm commented.

Embracing diversity as part of its corporate strategy is reflected in the number of overseas staff employed by the company, which stood at 21 percent in 2012, data from PETRONAS Sustainability Report 2012 unveiled. However, “no ideal target has been set by the Management of PETRONAS” on the hiring ratio for Malaysian versus non-Malaysian staff.

Meanwhile, PETRONAS has indicated that it is “targeting about 40 students [for the POTS program] including the 11 successful applicants” and these students will be offered employment with the company upon graduation.


PETRONAS acknowledged that petroleum companies face intense competition in the search for skilled talents to fill industry vacancies worldwide.

Given its extensive operations globally, PETRONAS’ top management considers POTS a high priority “especially in realizing our vision to be a leading oil and gas multinational of choice. Also in building global talents pipeline for Petronas’ Global Operations,” the firm emphasized.

“One way [for PETRONAS to prepare for the competition in talent search] is through [the] POTS program, in which we trust … could be a good platform to invite capable individuals to join our diversified workforce,” PETRONAS told Rigzone.




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