The Nigerian staff of Total panicked as they thought the organization was pulling out of the country.
Total E&P Nigeria Limited, TEPNG, has allayed fears among its Nigerian staff that its decision to dispose its stake and operating rights in offshore oil mining lease, OML 138, is a pointer to plans to pull out of the country.
The company on Monday announced its decision to sell its 20 per cent stake holding in the oil field to a Chinese oil corporation subsidiary, Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration & Production Corporation, for about $2.46 billion.
The oil concession, covering its prime offshore oil field, Usan, was operated in partnership with Chevron, which controls 30 per cent equity; Exxon Mobil (30 per cent) and Nexen (20 per cent), with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as concession holder.
Usan field, discovered in 2002, with estimated recoverable oil reserve of about 537 million barrels; proven oil production capacity of about 180,000 barrels of oil per day and associated gas reserve of about 0.83 trillion cubic feet commenced production last February.
But the sudden decision by its management to sell off its operational rights to the Chinese few months after the commencement of oil production in the oil field triggered massive apprehension among its workers in Nigeria that the company may have concluded plans to relocate.
The company’s president for upstream, Yves-Louis Darricarrere, had announced at the completion of the deal that the sale of the company’s asset, which it was operating from a minority position, was to allow it focus its resources on the material growth opportunities in portfolio; a statement that did not allay the anxiety among the Nigeria staff still.
To allay the fears, Managing Director/Chief Executive in Nigeria, Guy Maurice, was compelled to issue a passionate “Note to All Staff on Monday November 19, 2012 to reassure them of the commitment of the company to remain in Nigeria.
“Total is NOT pulling out of Nigeria,” Mr. Maurice said in the confidential memo obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.
“Rather TEPNG is re-focusing its financial and manpower resources on other projects that offer greater material growth in Nigeria, such as the OML58 Upgrade, Ofon Phase 2, Egina, Brass LNG and the project that will supply gas to Brass.”
“All TEPNG staff working on Usan will eventually be reassigned to other activities within our upstream operations”, the Managing Director added, adding that that during the transition phase, pending the takeover of the new Operator, all Total staff would be expected to “continue to provide their normal high level of dedicated service on the FPSO (floating production storage and offloading) and other sites.
The oil company boss said his firm was not selling its joint venture interest in OML 58, contrary to the rumours that recently circulated in the local and international press. He said he made the assurance to some staff of the company personally.
“The question has been asked why Total is selling its interest in OML 138 so soon after the successful launch of Usan. We have known for some time that Total’s minority share of the Usan production is not commensurate reward for the organizational resources required to operate Usan.
“Such resources, when optimally deployed to the other assets in Nigeria where we have a bigger participating interest would make the company more productive and profitable.” he said.