PETALING JAYA: Since 2007 when oil prices started to rise, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) increased its staff strength by about 50 per cent.
The national oil and gas company's workforce currently stands at around 51,000 people, of which more than 50 per cent are below the age of 35.
Its staff strength was about 33,800 people in 2007.
The growth in its workforce caused Petronas' staff costs to double to RM9.6bil (S$3 billion) in 2014 from RM4.9bil in 2008.
Petronas' hiring was most aggressive in 2009, when global crude prices started rebounding sharply from the fall caused by the 2008/2009 global financial crisis.
That year saw Petronas adding 3,200 people to its workforce.
The subsequent years till end-2014 saw Petronas hiring an average of about 2,300 people per year.
In its past annual reports, Petronas - whose global operations spans over 20 countries - noted that the increase in its workforce over the last eight years was to meet the group's business expansion needs.
Petronas said the recent sharp plunge in oil prices had sent shockwaves throughout the industry, forcing a re-think of growth plans and strategies in oil companies, with many taking drastic operational measures to maintain profitability and continue giving returns to stakeholders.
The current oil price collapse started in late 2014.
Brent crude oil, which is the international oil benchmark, fell from a peak of about US$115 (S$161) per barrel in June 2014 to end the year at a low of around US$60 per barrel.
Last year, it continued to decline and industry experts dare not predict how much lower it can go.
Brent crude in January this year fell below the critical US$30 per barrel level. It hovered at around US$36 per barrel yesterday.