BY KOLA EKE-OGIUGO
The workforce in Nigeria’s oil industry has been depleted by 3,000 employees following the sack of personnel by firms in the industry, two oil unions have said.
The mass sacks, it was gathered, resulted from the economic recession in the country.
Some of the companies that laid off their staff are Chevron, ExxonMobil, Pan Ocean, Sapiem, and Hercules Oil and Gas Ltd.
The two major unions in the oil and gas sector, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), which confirmed the development yesterday, threatened to go on strike over the sacking of their members.
The unions yesterday issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government calling for a halt to the sacking of their members by international oil companies in Nigeria.
LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported earlier this month that oil companies operating in the country had come under serious financial challenges due to the volatility in the global oil market, which had impacted heavily on their operations and profitability.
Some of them, it was gathered, had resorted to slashing staff salaries while others had either put on hold or reduced the size of their investments in the country.
Reliable sources in the sector told LEADERSHIP that fluctuations in the sector had led to a situation where some of the companies had slashed workers’ salaries by 50 per cent.
The huge decline in global oil prices has taken a toll on the country’s oil industry. Oil production dropped from about 2.1 million barrels per day to about 1.1 million barrels per day around August 2016. Latest figures by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) indicate that oil production had risen to 1.9 million barrels per day.
The situation is further compounded by attacks on oil pipelines by militant groups in the Niger Delta region.
The national president of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, who addressed the media at the end of the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting of the union in Effurun, Delta State, said that government has to stop the mass retrenchment of its members to avoid grounding the industry.
He disclosed that most of the companies – Chevron Nigeria Ltd, ExxonMobil, Pan Ocean, Sapiem, and Hercules Oil and Gas Ltd, among others – had terminated the appointment of over 3,000 of their workers apparently over the current economic recession in the country.
“More than 3,000 of our members are affected. Chevron alone is about 1,500; Mobil is about 1,000; the entire workers of Hercules Oil & Gas are being asked to go home; Pan Ocean have since closed shop and are gone. Industry-wide, everybody is being asked to go.
“We are now asking ourselves where we are heading with the industry. We have lost so much of Nigerian personnel working in the oil and gas industry. What is happening in Nigeria cannot be compared to what is happening in other African countries. We want government to wake up and address some of these issues,” Achese said.
The NUPENG president warned that if government failed to act and direct the oil companies to stop the ongoing retrenchment of their members in the sector, they would be compelled to act to protect their interest.
“It is painful to say. As I address you, Chevron has wound up in the East and their offices closed. A total of 1,500 workers were sacked without their entitlements. Nobody is saying anything about it. As we speak, many companies and many others are winding up to go.
“The federal government should act fast to avert further loss of jobs. There is too much redundancy in the oil industry, which needs urgent action from government to salvage the situation,” he stated.