PENGASSAN petitions Jonathan over crude oil theft

Nigerian oil workers08 September 2013, Lagos – PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to personally intervene in the alarming crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country, to save the nation’s economy from collapse.

PENGASSAN in the petition through its General Secretary, Bayo Olowoshile, said oil workers were becoming very agitated by the level of oil theft and pipeline vandalism because of the negative effects on the economy and job security of employees in the sector among others.

According to the petition, “It has become imperative for us as a key stakeholder in Nigeria’s persistently beleaguered Oil and Gas industry to register our dissatisfaction over the apparent deficient approach to intelligence, security and law enforcement response to the unceasing vandalism of pipelines and theft of crude oil across the producing, transit and terminal point of activity.

“The growing impact of oil theft is colossal, when measured from the investment and revenue, the strategic infrastructure, the ecosystem, essentially the human, aquatic and vegetation life; and the threats to jobs. The companies are now compelled to take extra risks of direct involvement in security and intelligence beyond their physical and resource limit and forced to spend huge resources in investment on security which remains the statutory responsibility of the State; these resources could have been invested in more exploration and production activities and improving the lot of host communities and industry workers.

”It is noteworthy to intimate that the leadership of PENGASSAN has severally managed the pressures within the union to avert the crisis of industrial action on the matter. We regret to inform that it has now become impossible to contain these pressures much longer as it is becoming apparent that whatever it takes to save the industry and jobs of our members now and in the immediate future should be done and urgently too.

“A key cause that seemingly makes oil theft to be of increasing attraction and patronage is the fact that the security agencies have failed to bring the perpetrators and their sponsors to book. Illegal bunkering and refining activities is getting significantly uncontrollable and the saboteurs hiding under the claim and defence of ‘resource control’ are getting undue support, protection and patronage.”

The umbrella body for senior workers in the Petroleum industry said “Many producing companies have been forced to shut-in production in order to reduce theft which in some instances is up to 50 per cent of production from particular fields. Production capacity may be irrecoverable when the companies eventually reopen the wells being shut-in to curtail losses and risks from oil theft not even after the work-over maintenance and servicing on such wells.

“Also of concern to PENGASSAN is Nigeria’s export of Nigeria LNG that suffered major setback when Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, recently declared force majeure on gas supply to NLNG Limited at Bonny.

“The setback translates not just to revenue loss but also a serious breach if no quick remedy is found to repair the punctured gas line and leakages that forced SPDC to shut down the gas line at Gbaran Ubie Gas Plant along Shell Eastern Gas Gathering System pipeline right of way. International off takers and thermal stations supplying energy needs may be critically affected. Shell has also been forced to reduce supply to its Soku Gas plant in Rivers State which accounts for 40 per cent of gas supply to NLNG.”

Suggesting ways to address the menace, the association said “as leaders of the oil workers unions, we earnestly implore you to intervene urgently to arrest the menace.

*Victor Ahiuma-Young, Vanguard

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