The Nigerian Labour Congress on Thursday insisted that petrol subsidy must not be removed and that it would not shift grounds on this position until Nigeria’s refineries were fixed.
NLC’s position came as a support to the earlier declaration of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers where NUPENG kicked against the advice of the Presidential Economic Advisory Committee on subsidy removal.
The General Secretary, NUPENG, Olawale Afolabi, had told newsmen recently that it was going to be highly suicidal to remove petrol subsidy now and that the advice by the PEAC that government should remove subsidy was wrong.
“Within the current context of hardship in the country, it is suicidal to remove subsidy now. It is highly suicidal within the current situation,” Afolabi had stated.
When contacted on Thursday to know if the NLC would support the advice of the PEAC following complaints by the government on the huge financial burden of petrol subsidy, the Deputy President, NLC, Joe Ajaero, replied in the negative.
He said, “The way they put some of these things makes it to look as if it is now rocket science. Is it subsidy on the crude produced here or subsidy on what? Those are some of the concepts you want to understand.
“Subsidy on garri, yam or all those things we produce here? I say this because the crude oil we are talking about is produced here and we now say let there be refineries to process it here.”
He added, “And when that is done nobody will tell you about subsidy. It is to make things easier for the same person who says he is paying subsidy. If you produce refined petroleum products, at least the one we need for domestic consumption, you won’t tell us about subsidy again.
“But by the time you carry our crude oil and refine it abroad and you bring it back, you will start to tell us that you have spent money on shipping, landing cost and all other costs and then you need to add money to make it real and you call it subsidy.”
The labour leader said members of the union did not believe that the government was incurring any cost on petrol subsidy because it was possible to trade crude oil with refined products without having to incur additional costs.
Ajaero said, “To continue to remove what they call subsidy, which some of us don’t believe, has been an issue. Even at that, you can sell your crude and use part of it as barter. Meaning I give you crude, you give me refined products of this nature.
“But what we see in Nigeria is that they go there, give them (refiners) crude and it is refined and we buy it at higher price. I really don’t understand. For us in labour, we are not seeing it that way.”
He said the NLC insists that the government must refine crude oil in Nigeria, as this would create jobs while other bye-products from the crude oil would be used for the benefit of Nigerians.
NSCDC Parades Five Suspects Over 24,000 Litres Of AGO
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) last Friday paraded five suspected oil thieves caught with over 24,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gasoline Oil (AGO) concealed in sack bags in Rivers State.
Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Michael Besong Ogar, while parading the suspects, reiterated that there was no room for illegal oil bunkering activities in Rivers State, warning that perpetrators would be smoked out of their hideouts.
Ogar said the newly-reconstituted anti-vandal team has made successes in the relentless war against vandalism of oil pipelines and illegal dealings in petroleum products through massive arrests and subsequent prosecution of cases in the court.
“The Commandant General, Ahmed Abubakar Audi, has promised that in a short while there would be a drastic reduction and possible eradication of illegal dealings in petroleum products across the nation
“Our major task is to massively arrest oil pipelines vandals and their sponsors as we take the Anti-vandalism war to the enemies’ domain.
“The nation is losing millions of dollars per barrel due to the increase in pipelines vandalism and illegal oil bunkering, but I can assure you that this menace would be a thing of the past because we are fully committed to the mandate of the Corps’ in safeguarding all critical national assets and infrastructures.
“The suspects will be charged for contravening the Anti-sabotage Act, the Petroleum Act and the Miscellaneous offences Act 2004, laws of the Federation.
“They are: Ifegbu Uche ‘m’ aged 42years, Obinna Ogbonna ‘M’ 42years, Emmanuel Smart ‘m’ 19 years, Lawrence Gibson ‘m’ 35years, and Emeka Desmond ‘m’ 35years, who were arrested while conveying about 24,000 litres of illegally refined AGO concealed in sack bags and carefully packed in a Toyota Sequoia with plate number AbujaGWA386GVA; a Volkswagen Bus with Registration Number: Lagos APP 831 XX, which was intercepted at Abuloma Community in Port Harcourt, a Truck DA1700 with number plate KadunaXE653KA impounded at Abonnema Wharf, and a Ford E- 250 intercepted in Etche respectfully.
“We also intercepted and impounded another short white Mercedes truck with unquantified litres of illegally refined AGO along Ozuoba-Rumuigbo axis in Obio/Akpor LGA, Port Harcourt Rivers State.
“We are very excited that the court has resumed session as the suspects would definitely have their time in Court while application for forfeitures of the products and mode of conveyance would be made and proceeds be remitted in the Federal Government coffers,” NSCDC said.
Eni Decries Production Loss From Bayelsa Gas Pipeline Explosion
Eni, the Italian parent company to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), has said the impact of the Ogboinbiri/OB-OB gas pipeline explosion on gas output was significant.
Production data from NAOC shows that the incident cut Agip’s gas exports by 5million standard cubic meters per day.
Media Relations Manager, in charge of African Operations at Eni, Mr Domenico Spins, said the gas leak has been brought under control.
Spins in a statement announced that the incident was caused by sabotage and third-party interference.
“Eni confirms that a third party’s interference hacksaw cut caused a gas leak at the Ogbainbiri-Ob/Ob gas pipeline.
“The line is depressurised and is currently being repaired. Production losses due to the shutdown are important,” Eni stated.
The Director-General of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Dr Idris Musa, who confirmed the pipeline blast, said the agency would lead an investigation into the incident as soon as it is safe to do so.
NOSDRA had also directed NAOC to shut down the oil and gas wells feeding the breached pipeline to extinguish the pressure and pave the way for a Joint Investigative Visit.
FG Confiscates 20m Litres Of Illegally Refined AGO
The Federal Government says the continued efforts by security agencies has led to the confiscation of over 20.2million litres of illegally refined Automotive Gasolme Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Port Harcourt while carrying out an aerial survey of illegal refinery sites and hotspots along the Nembe Creek Trunk Line and the Trans-Niger Pipelines’ right of way on Friday.
Mohammed said over 210 suspects have been arrested in its efforts to combat crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region, lamenting that the activities of vandals and economic saboteurs have severely impacted the country’s crude oil production.
The Minister said over 461,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, 843,000 litres of Dual-Purpose Kerosene, and 383,000 barrels of crude oil have also been confiscated.
He said an additional 365 illegal refining sites were destroyed, with about 1,054 refining ovens, 1,210 metal storage tanks, 838 dugout pits, and 346 reservoirs also destroyed.
“Since the post-covid pandemic recovery of crude oil prices, Nigeria has been unable to meet its OPEC Production quota, hurting the Nigerian economy.
“Due to the nefarious activities of vandals, Nigeria has been losing out on producing approximately 700,000 Barrels of oil daily. This volume is split between crude stolen and production deferment (shut-ins) due to legitimate fear of losing substantial volumes in transit.
“Terminal receipts have persistently declined, leading to decisions such as the Force Majure declared at the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal in March 2022,” he said.
The Minister also disclosed that the NNPC Ltd had set up a new security architecture to serve as a solid response to detect, deter, and respond to the activities of vandals.
He said the security architecture leveraged collaboration between the Upstream operators, Industry Regulators, Government Security Agencies, and Private Security Contractors.
He further said NNPC Ltd.’s Command and Control Centre has been set up for round-the-clock monitoring of petroleum operations and activities within the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone.
According to him, all vessel movements within the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone as well as all Ship-to-ship activities within the same zone are now monitored.
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