Global oil crisis: Nigerian oil workers resist mass sack

Oil rig
Oil rig used to illustrate the story.

In spite of the negative impact of the drop in global oil prices on economies of most oil producers, like Nigeria, oil workers have warned petroleum companies to desist from using that as a reason to sack workers.

The association of senior oil workers, PENGASSAN, vowed to resist any mass sack of its members.

“We have resolved to resist the growing redundancy tendency in the industry under the guise of the effects of drop in global oil prices,” PENGASSAN President, Francis Johnson, said at the end of its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja.

“NAPIMS (National Petroleum Investment Management Service) must put in place a clear policy statement on frequent redundancy plans by operators as a result of fluctuations in crude oil prices.

“PENGASSAN will not tolerate this unacceptable and unprocedural redundancy quagmire as a way out the evil of fluctuating crude oil prices.”

Mr. Johnson said the meeting dwelled on various important issues affecting the smooth operations of the country’s oil and gas industry.

Some of the issues, like the on-going reforms, he noted, had impacted individuals and group, emphasizing the need for more pragmatic processes that would allow more involvement of workers, to ensure the growth of the industry.

“Whatever government wants to do, the issue of job losses by our members is not acceptable. As labour leaders, job security and welfare of our members are very important to us. We insist that we must be carried along in any policy introduced by government that may have negative impact on our members,” the labour leader said.

The impact of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, he explained, had been major causes of the incessant production shut-ins, force majeure, massive divestment, environmental degradation and unbearable cost of facility maintenance and repairs.

Apart from the huge economic and revenue losses to the federation, PENGASSAN said pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft have continued deter investor confidence in the industry.

The Association asked government to consider a review of the pipeline installation techniques and maintenance policy; ensure regular surveillance by experts to ensure pipeline integrity and coordinated security network.

It also called for a strict enforcement of pipeline right of way and review of the enabling legal instruments for sanctioning violators and defaulters.

To ensure effective monitoring and security of pipelines, the group called for the creation of a specialised security agency with offices strategically located in troubled areas.

On the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which has been stalled in the National Assembly for three years, the oil workers noted assurances by the government to re-assess critical provisions of the draft law and represent for passage in the first quarter of 2016.

PENGASSAN said it was hopeful that the executive and legislature would close ranks and prioritise the passage of the PIB in view of its importance to the oil and gas industry.

Mr. Johnson said PENGASSAN had raised a team to dialogue with key government agencies with a view to speeding the passage of the PIB.

To ensure that the inputs of all interest groups in the industry are represented in the proposed law, the group proposed an all-inclusive industry summit to discuss issues in the national interest.

“We must restrategise to revitalise efforts and commitment towards quick process of the passage of PIB. Nigeria has lost so much revenue that could have accrued to government coffers, as existing investments are stalled and new investments are not taking place,” the group stated.

On expatriate quota and Nigerian Content Act, the group stressed the need to review the process of granting expatriate work permits into the country, to ensure transparency and compliance with global standards.

“Any expert coming into Nigeria must add value to the industry and must be ready to respect the understudy clause and training of Nigerians,” it said.

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