Brunei Darussalam, Southeast Asia's only ruling monarchy, is now recruiting new graduates, especially those with degrees on engineering and related fields, as it diversifies its oil-based economy.
Over the weekend, a jobs fair was held at a business complex here in the sultanate's capital to recruit young graduates.
During the jobs fair, Energy Minister Mohammad Yasmin Umar introduced the executives of nine energy companies, including Halliburton and Shell. The executives then explained the vacancies in the spin-off industries from the main oil and gas industry.
The government holds one or two recruitment drives a month, a sign that it is serious in intensifying its downstream and liquefied natural gas service sectors.
Most of these fresh graduates now being recruited are engineers who are in high in demand in this oil-rich sovereign state.
"In order to ensure that the oil and gas industry would continue to generate revenues to fuel the socioeconomic development of the country and contribute to the momentum up to 2035, it is important that we diversify and put up new industries, " Mohammad Yasmin told Xinhua in an interview.
"The energy department of the prime minister's office will ensure the continued supply of qualified manpower for the energy and oil industry and their spin-off sectors," Yasmin added.
Oil and gas contribute 60 percent to Brunei's gross domestic product (GDP) and 90 percent of its total revenues.
According to the oil ministry, the tiny nation's oil reserve will last beyond 2050.
But only a fraction of the 170,000 barrels of oil produced per day by the country is refined domestically at the state-linked Brunei Shell Petroleum Refinery in Seria.
The refinery's 12,000-barrels-per-day capacity can hardly meet domestic consumption, according to reports.
While the government continues to step up its oil exploration efforts, it also wants to make the sultanate a distribution hub for oil and gas products in the region.
Yasmin said several companies from Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Germany and Japan have already pledged to invest in downstream oil industry projects in Brunei.
The latest to invest in the downstream oil refining is China Zhejiang's Hengyi Group, which is putting some 4 billion Bruneian dollars or 3.17 billion U.S. dollars to construct a refinery and aromatics cracker complex in an industrial zone on the Pulau Muara Besar island off the eastern Brunei Bay.
If completed, the project, which will cover 260 hectares, will hire additional 800 workers.
The Hengyi project is scheduled to begin operations by 2014 with an initial production capacity of 135,000 barrels per day, which is 13 times higher than the current refining capacity in the country.
Mohammad Yasmin said that the Hengyi investment is the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in Brunei.
The project, Yasmin said, will require a lot of workers, especially those with chemical engineering degrees.
His ministry has initiated programs designed to produce more qualified workers in the industry, which is one way of attracting foreign investments into Brunei.
Copyright 2012 Xinhua News Agency
(Originally published July 19, 2012, by Xinhua General News Service.)