Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fuel Scarcity Bites Hard As FG, NUPENG Meet Today

Workers in the oil sector complied totally with the ongoing nationwide strike called by the sector’s unions as most oil installations across the country were shut yesterday.

Although, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured that the three-day warning strike action embarked upon by the workers will not affect the robust distribution and sale of fuel to members, most depots were shut in Lagos and there was no loading from key petroleum depots.

However, the situation might be brought under control today as the federal government has invited officials of the striking unions to a meeting in Abuja by 11am today.

The meeting is at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Meanwhile, our correspondent reports that some tankers which loaded earlier yesterday at Ejibgo depot were initially restricted but were later allowed to move out of the depot. At Apapa depot, there was total compliance at facilities owned by Mobil and Oando while there was skeletal work initially by NUPENG members at Total depot, which was later stopped in the course of the day.

This was despite a statement issued yesterday by the NNPC spokesman, Ohi Alegbe, to the effect that the corporation was in talks with the leaders of the unions “who gave the assurance that they would not disrupt the fuel supply and distribution system, as the strike was basically aimed at addressing the anti-labour issues by some of the International Oil Companies (IOCs).”

There was also no loading in Warri and Port Harcourt as the loading bays were shut; same with the Kaduna refinery where no entrance was allowed into the premises.

Also, there was serious fuel scarcity in Makurdi and other towns in Benue State, yesterday.

LEADERSHIP’s visit to Gboko, Otukpo and Makurdi among other major towns revealed that petrol stations were not open for business, even as there was long queue of vehicles in the few stations that opened.

Motorists were seen struggling in fuel queues to purchase the product in Makurdi, where, apart from the NNPC mega filling station that was dispensing fuel, other petrol stations at Highlevel ad Wadata, Gyado-villa, among others, were shut to motorists. Black market operators made a kill, selling fuel between N200 and N250 a litre.

Strike won’t affect fuel distribution – NNPC

Meanwhile, the NNPC and its downstream subsidiary, the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC), have said that it has more than 32 days stock of petroleum products available for supply across the country during the Yuletide season and beyond.

According to its spokesman, Alegbe, 17 additional petroleum laden vessels are at the Lagos port waiting to discharge to the various depots for onward distribution to members of the public.

Consequently, he warned marketers to desist from hoarding or diversion of petroleum products, stating that any marketer caught in the act would be sanctioned.

He assured that everything was being done to ensure that there was no hitch whatsoever in the supply system that could bring any form of hardship to motorists and those who intend to travel during the period.

The corporation further called on members of the public to avoid panic buying or stock piling of petroleum products as that could lead to needless queues or cause fire accidents that could lead to loss of life and property.

1200 Shell workers get sack letters as Christmas gift

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has sacked no fewer than 1,200 workers as part of the ongoing restructuring of the operations of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant in the country.

LEADERSHIP learnt that the affected workers have already received their sack letters. The exercise cut across all cadres of the company’s workforce in Port Harcourt and Lagos.

It was gathered that the management of the oil firm staggered the departure windows for the affected workers between November 2014 and March 2015.

The criteria for choosing the affected workers is unknown.

LEADERSHIP learnt that the exercise was sequel to the review of the company’s operations in the eastern Niger Delta, especially the divestment of four of its blocks, oil mining licences (OMLs) 18, 24, 25 and 29, located in the oil-rich belt.

Reliable sources in the company said that the divestment of the facilities with combined production capacity of about 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) made the sack of the workers inevitable.

Shell had embarked on strategic review of its business operations in the eastern Niger Delta, especially areas prone to crude oil theft and rifts over frequent spills. Besides, it was gathered that the divestment was part of Shell’s plan to dispose of about $15billion assets worldwide in 2014 and 2015.

It was gathered that the workers were declared redundant as the divestment exercise inched towards conclusion.

LEADERSHIP learnt that juicy packages were worked out to ease the impact of the sack on the affected workers.

One of them said, “Over 1,000 of us (Shell workers) in Lagos and eastern operation in Port Harcourt have been handed disengagement letters. The management said the exercise is the first phase. The exercise has been staggered from November 2014 to March 2015 when all affected workers are expected to have left the employment of the company.

“It is demoralising as at it came up during Yuletide season but we have to accept our fate and move on in life because some of us knew it would get to this stage when the company announced the divestment of those OMLs. This is where the Niger Delta crisis, particularly crude oil theft, has led us,” said the source who pleaded anonymity.

Spokesman of Shell Nigeria, Mr Precious Okolobo, declined to react to the report. He neither took calls to his mobile phone nor responded to text messages.

However, Okolobo had in an earlier statement hinted that the divestment would lead to job losses.
Source: Leadership.ng

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