By CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has fully withdrawn their services from operating oil fields of American oil major, Exxonmobil.
The quitting of the union from the company’s facilities followed the inability of the management of the company and PENGASSAN to reach a compromise over the sacking of 83 employees of the company.
In a letter signed by Comrade Anietie David Udoh, secretary, PENGASSAN, Mobil Producing Nigeria, Branch, obtained by our correspondent, which was copied to general secretary and chairman producers forum of PENGASSAN, the union directed its members to withdraw their services immediately.
The letter dated, May 18, 2017, read, “We refer you to earlier letter from National PENGASSAN dated May 2, 2017, directing the Branch with the full support of National Secretariat to take all necessary actions it can, industrial relations wise, to fully address the concerns of our members regarding the 2016 management initiated separation program.
Following the breakdown of all engagements to resolve the contending issues, you are therefore directed to withdraw services totally from all locations effective immediately”. The Union also vowed to stop at nothing to get its members their deserved welfare.
Our correspondent reports that the union during the week called out members on a three day warning strike during which they threatened to begin gradual withdrawal and to shut down the plants in Mobil locations all over the country.
PENGASSAN Lagos zonal chairman, Comrade Abel Agarin while addressing the members earlier, said they will start with gradual withdrawal of services from all oil and gas installations belonging to Mobil Producing Nigeria, MPN. Mobil is one of the largest oil producing companies in Nigeria, with about 660,000 barrels a day, bpd.
Also, to further broaden its protest the union had incited their colleagues in Chevron, Shell, Addax, Total and Agip to join in the agitation. Our correspondent gathered that the striking union had shunned the intervention of the minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige who had referred the case to the Industrial Arbitration Panel, IAP.
The IAP, had on May 16, issued an order restraining both Exxonmobil and PENGASSAN from lock out and strike respectively. While Exxxonmobil complied with the directive, the union ignored the order by ordering total shut down of the company’s installations.
Meanwhile, this crises is coming just as the U.S increases its import of Nigerian crude oil. US crude imports from Nigeria rose by 13.6 per cent to 325,000 barrels per day from 286,000 b/d the most since March, just as preliminary data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) for week ended May 12, has shown.
The increase came despite the threat of a potential rise in shale oil production on the back of the rally in global oil prices, as energy companies ramped up drilling. The EIA data showed that although Nigeria remained US highest crude exporter in Africa, exports from Angola to US witnessed the highest increase at 42.8 per cent from 63,000 b/d to 90,000 b/d.
Overall, crude imports from Saudi Arabia rose the highest at 42 per cent to 1.38 million b/d from 970,000 b/d. Meanwhile, the US government has commended Nigeria for the significant steps it has taken to reform the oil and gas industry through the National Oil, Gas and Fiscal policies as well as the draft Petroleum Industry Governance Bill and Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill developed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
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