BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Malaysian oil and gas firm, Sapura Energy, has pledged to continue growing its business in Brunei as the company marked 25 years of operation in the sultanate.

Sapura provides offshore oil and gas drilling services to Brunei Shell Petroleum. Its rig, dubbed Sapura Pelaut, has drilled 178 wells for BSP over the past quarter century.

During a ceremony to mark its silver jubilee on Monday, CEO of Sapura Drilling, Raphael Siri, underlined the company’s commitment to tap into local suppliers as it mulls possible partnerships in order to grow its business in the country.

The company has spent US$15 million into procuring equipment and services in Brunei over the past three years.

We will continue this strategy as we expand our business in Brunei, Siri said, adding that maximising economic spin-off from the energy sector was in line with the government’s local business development policy.

Norzaidi Zahidin, Sapura Drilling’s director of drilling operations in Brunei, said as the company marks its silver jubilee, knowledge transfer is the biggest contribution Sapura has made to the economy.

“When it comes to investment, most people look at capital expenditure in the country to build buildings, plants and factories,” he said.

“But as a drilling contractor, we are a service provider. Part of the key strategy of our current and future expansion is to have more Bruneians [in the workforce].”

Sapura Drilling said local hires have increased from 30 percent to 80 percent after it acquired business from another drilling contractor in 2013. Norzaidi said 70 percent of key positions are held by locals.

The company added that it has plans to completely localise its Brunei workforce, making it 100 percent local.

Sapura Energy operates in over 20 countries, including China, Australia and the US, employing 13,000 people.