By Bimbola Oyesola
In a bid to salvage the oil and gas industry and the nation’s economy from total collapse, workers in the industry have issued a 60 day ultimatum to the Federal Government to address the problem in the sector.
The workers also to charged the government to ensure ultimate security for all oil and gas installations, especially pipelines in the country.
The workers, under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), decided to hand down the ultimatum to the government after considering the huge loss of investments, income and jobs that crude oil theft in the country.
The two unions after their Joint National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of NUPENG and PENGASSAN under the umbrella called NUPENGASSAN in Abuja on Tuesday, said, “In view of the looming dangers to the survival of the oil and gas industry and by extension the nation’s economy and with high sense of responsibility and patriotism, we have resolved to issue the Federal Government of Nigeria, a 60-day ultimatum to effectively and holistically address and find a lasting solution to this massive crude oil theft debacle.”
Speaking on the crude oil theft debacle, the Presidents of the PENGASSAN and NUPENG, Comrade Babatunde Ogun and Comrade Igwe Achese respectively, condemned the helplessness of the Federal Government in combating the high level of crude oil theft.
According to Comrade Achese, who is the Chairman of NUPENGASSAN, crude oil theft has reduced production of almost all the multinationals by more than 60 per cent leading to shortages, shut in, high cost of operation, and threats to their members jobs and discouragement to investments.
He alleged that there was high level collaboration among the security agencies, politicians and highly placed Nigerians in the racket of crude oil theft. Comrade Ogun, who is the alternate chairman of the joint body, observed that the increase in the rate of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalisation could be as a result of underfunding of the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies saddled with the task of protecting and securing these vital national assets. He therefore called on the Federal Government to provide the necessary and adequate funding and equipment to the security agencies saddled with this onerous task of securing the Nigeria waterways.
The PENGASSAN President noted that the Federal Government has not been doing enough in the area of provision of adequate security for oil and gas installations in the country, which has increased the cost of production by the International Oil Companies (IOCs). He said, “Many multinationals are divesting from the nation’s onshore assets due to insecurity, which increase their cost of production. Shell, Chevron, Addax and Petrobras are divesting and this endangers the jobs of our members in these companies.
“Aside from losing their crude and reducing their productions, the oil companies take care of the cost of repairs of pipelines rupture by crude oil vandals, and also take care of the costs of the environmental clean-up caused by these economic saboteurs.
All these add up to their cost of production.” Comrade Achese called on the government to step up adequate security and end crude oil theft in the next two months or the unions will be forced to withdraw its members from oil and gas installations