Tuesday, February 27Inside Business Africa

Again, unions advocate NLNG model for refineries resuscitation

With refineries underperforming and recording recurring losses, advocacy groups in the oil and gas industry have urged the Federal Government to apply the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) ownership and operating model to resuscitate the nation’s refineries.

According to them, the success of the NLNG model is a pointer to ways the country can maximise the country’s national assets.

They argued that the lack of significant investment in the petroleum industry continues to limit the overall contribution of the sector to economic growth and development.

NLNG is an incorporated Joint Venture owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%), Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France (15%), and Eni International N.A. N.V. S.àr.l (10.4%).

Stakeholders said the resuscitation of the nation’s refineries, would create more jobs, reduce the burden of importing refined petroleum products and add value to the national economy, as well as save some foreign exchange.They spoke at a virtual session organised recently by the African Initiative for Transparency and Responsible Leadership (AfriTAL), under its Save Nigeria Oil Gas Initiative Programme, focused on: “Post COVID-19: Oil and Gas Industry Challenges and Prospects.”

Although the NNPC said last month that it had secured funding for the rehabilitation of the ailing refineries, its latest data showed that the plants, which are managed by the Corporation, lost N9.60billion in January, and N9.36billion in February.

Nigeria continues to rely largely on importation for refined petroleum products, as its refineries have remained in a state of disrepair for many years despite several reported repairs.

The refineries, which are located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, but have continued to operate far below the installed capacity.

Participants included oil and gas unions, Ministry of Labour and Employment, employers’ association, industrial relations managers, human resources managers, academia, media, civil society organisations, and industry captains.

They also urged that the new Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), should promote good governance, allow for indigenous participation, revitalise midstream and downstream operations, protect the environment, emplace fiscal regimes that will at the end attract investors and address community concerns.

Besides, the unions accused oil companies of using the hard times occasioned by COVID-19, to breach subsisting contract agreements they have with their employees.

The National President, Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Williams Akporeha, alleged that oil companies were terminating contracts without recourse to the subsisting collective bargaining agreements.

A communiqué from the session, and signed by the Executive Director of AfriTAL, Ogbeifun Brown, quoted Akporeha as saying: “Though everybody is saying that the unions should cooperate with the companies to survive, that survival should not be translated into redundancies all the time on the part of the unions.”

He alleged that the union has not been consulted when government and the companies were taking decisions on issues that required their inputs.

Citing the issue of removal of subsidy on petrol and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Akporeha noted that government has a lot to do in terms of consultation with key stakeholders, including the oil workers.

“As a union, we can only cooperate on matters that we are engaged in, and that which respects the sanctity of our collective agreements as the basis for collaboration.”

Similarly, the National President, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Nduka Ohaeri, said: “though the unions have the responsibilities of wearing both the national caps and looking at the business, we shall however not be cowed or cajoled into taking actions or speaking for government or speaking for our employers, because they all have their responsibilities.

“But rest assured that our responsibility is not lost on us as a union. When necessary, we will wear the national cap. At other times, we shall wear the cap of labour unions in matters relating to the welfare of our members.”

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