If the Federal Government and organized Labour fail to reach compromise on the ongoing industrial standoff over the cut in fuel subsidy, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) would shut down oil and gas production the country beginning Sunday, the oil workers union has said.
This implies that apart from the huge losses the country has suffered in the non-oil sector, the economy would be losing a further $259.7million (about N40.73billion) daily to the nationwide strike action, based on an exchange rate of N156.83 to the dollar.
The calculation is based on an average oil production of 2.3million barrels per day (bpd) adopted in the 2011 Budget at the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) daily basket price at the international oil market at about $112.90 per barrel as at yesterday.
The oil workers had earlier announced the commencement of the shutdown process by refusing to generate normal operational reports from oil and gas production locations to both the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other government agencies and placing its members on red alert preparatory to shutting down.
But worried that the general protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Nigeria, which entered its fourth day today, appears not to move government towards conceding to their demand to revert to the former price of N65 per litre, PENGASSAN has given midnight Saturday as shutdown time.
“We are hereby notifying the Federal Government of Nigeria, and indeed all Nigerians, that PENGASSAN shall be forced to go ahead and apply the bitter option of ordering the systematic shutting down of Oil and Gas production with effect from the midnight of Sunday, January 15, 2012, where the Federal Government of Nigeria fails to yield to the popular agitation of Nigerians on her unacceptable approach to fuel subsidy removal,” the president of the oil workers, Babatunde Ogun, said in a statement.
Restating its commitment to work with every concerned Nigerian group to sustain the struggle to force government to respect the sovereign will of the people, Mr. Ogun said the resolutions by the two chambers of the National Assembly should compel government to uphold people’s legitimacy and concede to their demand.
He said all branches of PENGASSAN in the downstream, refineries and upstream sectors of the petroleum industry have already been directed to fully mobilize towards the actualization of NLC/TUC orders on the strike.
“For the umpteenth time, we are worried that our leaders are still unyielding to the pleas and yearning of the Nigerian people, which is tantamount to misrule of our nascent democracy,” the PENGASSAN President said.
He alleged that its members working on the oil fields have not only been denied adequate emergency attention, as they have run out of food, medical facilities and other emergency measures, but also made to work under series of unsafe and unacceptable conditions under the industry Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) policy.
The group reiterated the resolution of its national executive council that all policy and institutional issues, including the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, must be fully met as condition for the implementation of deregulation in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Other conditions the oil workers want in place before the take off of the policy include repair of the country’s four refineries and building of new ones; regular power supply, provision of social infrastructures, such as rail system and roads, and elimination of corruption associated with supply and distribution of petroleum products in the downstream sector of the oil industry.