25 January 2014, Lagos — Two multinational oil companies in Nigeria are on the verge of divesting their assets in the Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta area and indications are that the exercise may result in massive job cuts.
It was gathered that both companies may sack half their workforce in the country in order to execute the divestment programme.
Each of the companies has about 8,000 personnel in its employ, meaning that same figure of workers would be jobless in a few months when the programme is fully implemented.
A source told our correspondent that the companies held discussions with the unions in the oil and gas sector penultimate week but it was inconclusive.
It was gathered that the discussions resumed but the companies were said to have insisted on laying off the workers as part of their asset divestment programme.
The oil unions were said to have been disoriented about the development since they couldn’t get enough capital to buy the assets of the companies in order to save the jobs of their members in the companies.
It was gathered that the planned divestment of assets is not unconnected to the rising incidence of oil theft and harsh business environment in the sector, partly caused by the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly.
Zonal chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Reverend Folusho Oginni, confirmed that his union is making frantic effort to ward off the mass sack of workers.
He blamed the federal government for the wave of divestment of assets by multinational oil companies in the country as, according to him, it has failed to evolve robust policies in the oil and gas sector as well as create enabling environment for investment to thrive.
*Mohammed Shosanya – Daily Trust