18 May 2015, Benin – Crisis is brewing in the oil industry as staff of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, in Benin City, Edo State, commenced the shut down of oil facilities in the Niger Delta in protest over the alleged illegal sale of OML 42, one of the company’s priced oil blocs by the Federal Government.
Staff of the company embarked on a three-day warning strike last week, but Vanguard learned that the workers have vowed to continue the strike until the Federal Government reversed the sale of the oil bloc which they alleged was sold to one of the NPDC contractors which, according to them, did not follow due process.
A union member who craved anonymity told Vanguard: “Our sister companies like the IDSL and NNPC, have all indicated interest to join the strike and the meaning is that tomorrow, there will be total shut down of all oil facilities in the Niger Delta. We have commenced shutting down some since Friday.
“We tried to shut down the OML 42 which they sold but the Federal Government deployed hundreds of soldiers to stop us. So, we left there because we don’t want to expose our members to danger but that will not deter us. Our Managing Director, Mr Anthony Muoneke, is supposed to come back today from Abuja, but we will shut him outside the compound. We have been told that he is coming with soldiers but we shall see if he will kill all of us.
“So, the nation should expect a total shut down of oil facilities as from Tuesday. We will resist any attempt to intimidate us,” the source said.
Reacting to the brewing problem, the former Minister of State (Works), Dr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, also a former Group Managing Director of NPDC, described the alleged sale of the OML 42 as criminal and threatened to head to court on the issue.
He said: “I tried not to believe that the management of NPDC will be selling their assets, the reason being that when we started NPDC, I remember our first project was Oredo field project. We used that field to acquire expertise, more or less a training ground. So, if what we are hearing is true, then there is a problem. Instead of growing capacity they are now dissipating capacity.”