PENGASSAN threatens strike action over rising oil theft
PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has threatened to withdraw the services of its members if the Federal Government fails to take decisive action to curb the activities of crude oil thieves and pipeline vandals in the Niger Delta region.
PENGASSAN said the rising level of oil theft is forcing several companies to shut down operations leading to loss of jobs in the oil and gas industry.
Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Festus Osifo, said the association would hold a rally on Thursday to put pressure on the government to take action against oil thieves in the country.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had earlier this year reported that Nigeria has lost about $5.51 billion to oil thieves in the past 16 months.
Mr. Osifo said if the government fails to resolve the issue in the coming months, the union would be compelled to withdraw the services of its members.
While throwing their support for the recent pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a company belonging to Mr. Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, by the government, he urged the Federal Government to hold security forces sent to the region to stop the menace accountable for the continuing activities of the vandals.
He said: “This is the very first time that crude oil price will be around $100 per barrel in the international market but as a country we are broke and are borrowing to finance our appropriation. This year alone, the Nigerian government has borrowed over N6 to N7 trillion to finance our budget. If there was no crude oil theft and we are able to produce up to 1.9 million barrels per day we will not have any need to go external to borrow”.
He pointed out that the country was losing about 600,000 barrels daily due to the activities of oil theft, hugely impacting the revenues of the government.
“As PENGASSAN we felt that we can no longer fold our hands because the discussions that we have been having in offices have not yielded the desired result. So, enough is enough. We have to add our voice to the struggle and we will not do it by just discussions anymore.
“The leadership of the union has decided that we should have this press conference and we are following it up with a rally that is going to take place across the four zones and Abuja on Thursday 8 of September, 2022. We have titled this: Chasing oil thieves and vandals out of business.
“This is going to be the first in the series of initiatives that we are going to take as PENGASSAN. It is not going to be a one-off because the reason we are doing this is not far-fetched. It is very simple because a lot of companies are shutting in productions”.
He noted that because companies were losing money, workers were being laid off both by the producing companies and the service companies.
“As of today a lot of companies are shutting down production. For example, Agip has literally shut down its production from land locations. The reason is because they cannot continuously produce and thieves steal their products. Addax has shut down OML 124 completely. Total E&P, for example in OML 58, there has been challenges in that location since January. Initially they shutdown production completely but because the well has associated gas what they are doing is to produce the crude oil, store it in the tank and re-inject into the well. That means the oil that would have been sold is re-injected into the well instead of allowing it to be stolen.
“SPDC is one of the worst hit and a lot of their land locations are shut in. This is a real challenge and crisis that the government of the day must develop the political will to go after the oil thieves”, he added.
He urged the government to hold security forces deployed to the region to combat the crisis accountable for their actions in the region.
“The rhetoric must stop, this is the time for action”, he stressed.