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Oil Workers And Industrial Action

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Oil company workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and National Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) recently issued a sevenday ultimatum  to the Rivers State Government and the management of VAM Onne Nigeria Limited, to either resolve the industrial relations crisis in the  company or have all oil and gas operations shut down indefinitely. The workers alleged that the company in collaboration with some politicians sponsored thugs numbering over 15 armed with dangerous weapons to harass, manhandle, assault them and disrupted the peaceful protest organised by PENGASSAN, Port  Harcourt Zone against the management of VAM Onne Nigeria Limited.

In a petition addressed to the Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi dated February 8, 2012 and signed by the Assistant General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Port Harcourt Zone, Mr Sunday Onyenachi, the workers said,” as a result our National Secretariat has directed that after seven days, with effect from February 9, 2012, there will be a complete shutdown of all oil and gas operations in Rivers State.  If thereafter, the matter is not resolved within the period, the entire 10 states in Port Harcourt Zone including Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Enugu, Imo and Rivers State will follow suit and this will escalate the crisis.”

They alleged that the  country Manager of VAM Onne, Mr Engene Fogli victimised 27 PENGASSAN members who have been locked out for over  three months without salaries. The workers accused the  VAM manager of  engaging in anti-union activities ranging from intimidation, harassment, lockout, victimisation and enslavement of Nigerian workers, flagrant abuse of our extant labour laws and release of Nigerians from employment without clearance from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). And more importantly, refusal to honour agreement which was reached at a meeting at the instance of Prince of Onne community, Prince (Dr) Jime Osaronu and Mr Sunday Dudu between the association and the management on November 15, 2011 at Novetel Hotel , Port Harcourt.

They also said Mr Fogli had started recruiting new staff to replace workers that were locked out because they exercised their fundamental rights to belong to trade union.

Similarly the independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Ilorin branch penultimate Saturday threatened that the association would withdraw its services with effect from Tuesday last week because the lives of its members were being threatened by vandals of petroleum pipelines.

Chairman of the association Alhaji Holaji Agbolade bemoaned a situation where those arrested for pipeline vandalism by the Police, State Security Serviced (SSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were not properly persecuted.

He said : “Pipeline vandalism is an economic sabotage, we are worried about a situation where suspects are arrested and released within a few days without prosecution! According to the association, “we will likely withdraw our services and fuel will not be sold at the Ilorin Depot to any filling station. He gave an instance where about two years ago, the police arrested five persons who were each sentenced to five years imprisonment by the Federal High Court but were released two weeks ago without completing their jail terms by another court and called for the re- arrest of the  convicted pipeline vandals.

All these came at the time when fuel tanker drivers embarked on their strike that triggered some days of petrol scarcity.

It is known that the prime function of trade unions the world over is to protect and improve the wages and working conditions of their members through collective action, whether by bargaining with the employers by promoting legislation. In fact, historically, one of the main reasons for the setting up of trade unions was that the workers might acquire a combined strength which would enable then to bargain more effectively with the employers and to replace the individual contract by a collective agreement.

In Nigeria, many employers and employees refuse to believe that this is what happens and they think that the collective agreements are fundamentally different in form and content from what obtains outside.

Another midely held belief is that the workers in Nigeria are not free to withhold their services if they are dissatisfied with their conditions of work.

Freedom of association does not merely imply the right of workers to form or join an organization and the right of that organization to have a legal existence. It also implies freedom for the organization to function. If freedom of association is to have its full value, the workers must be able to use their organization for collective action and must enjoy the right to strike if they regard their working conditions as unsatisfactory.

Another thing to be remembered is that the structure, functions and rights of the Nigerian trade unions cannot be properly appreciated unless the economic, political and social structure of the country is taken into account. Personal or group circumstance is less important in the case of the nation. The fact that the rights of oil workers are trampled on or tampered with as alleged by PENGASSAN and the IPMAN do not call for strikes that are not negotiated or dialogued before commencement. There are various methods for dealing with industrial disputes which were not adopted by the tanker drivers and oil workers in the current crisis.

The withdrawal of services by tanker drivers for about six days and the threats by the PPPRA, PENGASSA and IPMAN has resulted in enormous pressure on other sectors of the economy.

Oil workers should acknowledge the fact that the oil and gas industry is an important aspect of the nations economy and any action such as strike critically paralyses the economy and the movement of people.

Petroleum products distribution in Nigeria and Rivers State in particular in the past one week has continued to suffer from the negative effects of the marketers and oil workers. People are forced to pay exorbitantly for petroleum products  which also affects transport fares. The reputation of some oil workers and their managements has been battered by their failure to come to terms.

Regardless of what the issues are, citizens of the country and government are not happy with the situation in which they find themselves while the fuel scarcity lasts.

Cheap and effective business and services are no longer guaranteed in the country. This is why it is incumbent on the state and federal governments to seize the initiative and end this improfitable standoff once and for all.

The Tide learnt that the  Federal Government might have begun the process of calling a stakeholders meeting where some of the issues unearthed during the hearing on the subsidy claims by the National Assembly would be addressed with a view to checking the fuel scarcity.

The issues raised by IPMAN and the PENGASSAN concerning intimidation and other ill-treatments meted out to their members should be addressed just as perpetrators of pipeline vandalism should be treated according to the law as it concerns economic sabotage. Oil workers on their part should not in any way allow themselves to be used by anyone or group whatsoever to disrupt the distribution process of petroleum products.

Security agencies should take serious the issue of pipeline vandals because their activities are counter productive, especially now that there is the need for improvement in the allocation of petroleum products.

The Rivers State government would not wish to put itself in a position where it will be vulnerable to copycat strikes and it must be realised that the consequences of this quibbling have resulted in economic downturn and penury on the citizens.

When two elephants fight, the resultant effect is always on the grasses. While the oil workers or tanker drivers argue over the fine points of their grievances, the citizens are suffering.

As the body charged with overall well-being of the citizens, government should endeavour to bring the strike and threats under control. The welfare of the people is simply too important to be put on hold through strikes. The companies managements should see reasons with their workers and give them what they want if their demands are genuine.

There should be evidence of  faith in the demands of the workers and it must be obvious that they are making a point. There is the need for negotiations between the government, company managements and the workers to find solution to the situation.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) alleged the fear of petroleum products scarcity as it claimed that Nigeria still has over 35 days sufficiency and more importers of petrol are in the business, so people should  face what they are licensed to do rather than causing artificial scarcity of fuel.

There are many issues involved in the  petroleum sector reform which need to be addressed. Insecurity in the nation’s high seas is one of the factors that bring about scarcity of petroleum products. Some oil companies have applied for as much as 160,000 metric tones but had not been able to get that quantity while some take their vessels to neighbouring countries such as the republic of Benin and Togo because of inadequate storage facilities at the country’s ports, so they have to split the products, which is a security risk because of the way pirates operate and the difficulty in the jetties.

As a way forward, there is need for re-classification of the oil companies  in a bid to effectively reposition the oil  industry. The dearth of facilities at our ports has also forced importers to use ports in neighbouring countries and there should be market forces to determine quality of fuel imported and the prices they are sold as an inspector  is made to oversee the quality and quantity of import.

 

Shedie Okpara

 

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Oil & Energy

Nigeria Earns N2.7trn From Domestic Crude Oil Sales In 2019

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The latest report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has put Nigeria’s earning from domestic crude oil sales in 2019 at N2.7 trillion.
According to NEITI’s 2019 Oil and Gas Industry Audit report, the country earned N2.72 trillion from just domestic crude oil sales.
It added that of this figure, N518.07bn was deducted for Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS, under-recovery by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
This figure is N213.07bn above the approved sum of N305bn for under-recovery in 2019.
Similarly, the sum of N126.66bn was incurred by the corporation as costs for pipeline repairs and maintenances, which showed a difference of N96.38bn from the approved sum of N30.29bn for the purpose.
The report also pointed out that N31.84bn was deducted for crude and product losses due to theft and sabotage in 2019.
The sum of $34.22bn was recorded as revenue from the oil and gas sector in 2019.
The $34.22bn revenue represented an increase of 4.88 percent over the $32.63bn garnered from the sector in 2018.
A breakdown of the earnings showed that payments by companies accounted for $18.90bn, while flows from federation sales of crude oil and gas accounted for $15.32bn.
The report showed that 10-year (2010-2019) aggregate financial flows from the oil and gas sector to government amounted to $418.54bn, with the highest revenue flow of $68.44bn recorded in 2011, while the lowest revenue flow of $17.06bn was recorded in 2016.
According to NEITI, the total crude oil production in 2019 was 735.24 million barrels, representing an increase of 4.87 per cent over the 701.101 million barrels recorded in 2018.
Production Sharing Contracts contributed the highest volumes of 312.042 million barrels followed by Joint Venture and Sole Risk, which recorded 310,284 million barrels and 89.82 million barrels respectively.
Others include Marginal Fields and Service Contracts which accounted for 21,762 million barrels and 1,330 million barrels respectively.
The report also showed that total crude oil lifted in 2019 was 735.66 million barrels, indicating a 4.93 per cent increase to the 701.09 million barrels recorded in 2018, with companies lifting 469.01 million barrels, while 266.65 million barrels was lifted by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation on behalf of the federation.

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Egbin Power Plant Plans 1,900MW Boost

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A boost for electricity generation is on the horizon.
This indication comes on the heels of a planned additional 1,900 megawatt (MW) to the country’s power generation capacity by the Egbin Power Plant.
Its Chairman, Temitope Shonubi, made this known while unveiling expansion plans for the Egbin (Expansion) Phase 2 Investments, which is expected to add between 1,750MW  and 1900MW to power generation.
Shonubi, conducting a delegation of the NNPC led by its Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gas and Power, NNPC, Yusuf Usman, an engineer, through the plant’s post-privatisation, said the plant has gone through major overhauling, which he said has helped to increase its generation from the low capacity it had before 2013.
“Egbin has 1,320 MW capacity. As at the time we took over, the plant was generating 300MW which is an abysmal 22 per cent. As at today, our generation capacity has surged and we do 89 per cent. We have reached 970 MW, the peak generation for the year and we are working hard to ensure sustainability of this feat. The 970MW we hit is the highest for the year and based on our core value of sustainability, we are working round the clock to make sure that we sustain the gains we have made,” Shonubi explained.
Listing challenges being faced by the company to include, grid limitation, gas constraints, and liquidity, Sonubi added that stakeholders, including the NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) have been trying to solve the problems.
He called on the NNPC to keep exerting efforts towards gas development and supply of the product to keep turbines at Egbin working productively at optimal capacity.
Responding to the call and obviously satisfied with efforts put in so far in the thermal plant, Usman assured of the corporation’s commitment towards gas optimisation and supply for gas to power.  He said NNPC will be joining the Egbin Power Plant to deepen gas supply for power generation.
He maintained that the NNPC was impressed with the turnaround at the thermal power station.

By: Tonye Nria-Dappa

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Rising Oil Prices’ll Create Problems For Nigeria – NNPC

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Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, has warned that rather than being a positive development, the rising prices of crude oil in the international market could cause major challenges for resource-dependent nations like Nigeria.
He spoke just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern over the re-emergence of fuel subsidy in Nigeria in the face of the country’s low revenue mobilisation.
The Washington-based institution, however, welcomed recent moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unify exchange rates, certifying Nigerian banks as being liquid and well-capitalised.
Kyari, at the virtual Citizens Energy Congress, tagged: “Securing a Sustainable Future Energy System through Strategy, Collaboration and Innovation,” yesterday described the rising price of crude oil as a “chicken and egg” situation.
He added that oil prices had started exiting the comfort zone set by the NNPC, and becoming a burden.
The forum was organised by DMG Events, a London-based Public Relations company, which said the occasion was to provide an opportunity for players to reset the energy agenda post- COVID-19 and connect the divergent and polarising perspectives.
Kyari put the comfort zone globally at $58-$60, saying that for the NNPC, anything above $70-$80 will create major distortions in the projections of the corporation and add more problems to the company.
Brent crude, Nigeria’s oil benchmark, is currently selling for over $74 and is likely to increase further in the coming days as the NNPC continues to battle the dilemma of shouldering the payment of petrol subsidy, which has made it unable to contribute to the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) on two occasions.
Kyari expressed the concern that as the commodity prices rise, buyers of Nigeria’s crude may be compelled to accelerate their investment in renewable sources of energy, thereby leaving the industry in a quagmire.
He said: “In a resource-dependent nation like Nigeria when it gets too high, it creates a big problem because your consumers shut down their demand. Demand will go down and obviously even as the prices go up, you will have less volume to sell.
“So, it’s a chicken and egg story and that’s why in the industry when people make estimates for the future, they always make it about $50 to $60. Nobody puts it beyond $60.
“But for us as a country, as prices go up, the burden of providing cheap fuel also increases and that’s a challenge for us but on a net basis, you know, the high prices, as long as it doesn’t exceed $70 to $80, it’s okay for us.”
According to him, Nigeria will have no problems supporting the restoration of about 5.8 million barrels a day that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) still has offline since the pandemic, due to the curbs in production quota imposed by the oil cartel.
He said adding that number to demand will stabilise and probably bring oil prices down to about $60 level or a little below $60, stressing that that’s a comfort zone for every producing company or country.
“I don’t see them (Nigeria) having any difficulty agreeing to add additional volume to cushion the effect of these high prices for this period,” he said.
He stated that Nigeria is already producing well below its capacity, because in early 2020, the country actually produced up to 2.4 million barrels of oil per day for both oil and condensates.
With declining investments in the oil sector, Kyari stated that in a short time, most likely the next five years, the world may experience an energy crisis if the current situation is not properly managed.

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