31 May 2015, Abuja – Oil workers in the employ of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) have said that their contention over the transfer of operatorship of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42 was to salvage the industry from being hijacked by few individuals in the outgoing government.
The workers under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had last week, directed employees of the NPDC to shutdown indefinitely oil production facilities nationwide in a bid to force the federal government to reverse the transfer of operatorship of the oil block from NPDC to Neconde Energy.
All the NNPC subsidiaries and staff of the NNPC headquarters in Abuja also joined their NPDC colleagues to embark on the strike action to force the government to reverse the order.
Although the strike has since been suspended, some of the union members who spoke to our reporter in separate interviews explained that they needed to raise questions when at the twilight of the present administration, the operatorship of OML 42 which is the most prolific Nigerian OML, was ceded to Niconde.
The workers, who pleaded not to be named for fear of being victimized, wondered why the rush to transfer the operatorship of the OML became very much, the outgoing government made sure the deals were sealed hurriedly.
NPDC has been accused of lacking the requisite technical competence and financial muscle to operate the assets in contention but the workers who dismissed this claim said they had nothing against the government building capacities but that their grievances hinged on the fact that due process and diligence was not followed in the award.
They however called on president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to investigate the operations, transfers and alliances entered by the NPDC with joint venture partners and reverse the deal for the benefit of the country.
“The incoming government should ask questions about the operations, the transfers, the strategic alliances in NPDC. They should carry out a due diligence on the companies that are claiming to be in Strategic Alliances with the NPDC. They must ask if due process was followed in identifying, examining how Neconde was found to be the most competent company to be the operatorship of OML 42 – who are they, what have they done before, where have they operated an oil well before, why the hurry and why OML30,40,42 the six best oil wells.”
A Neconde Energy Limited official promised to comment on the workers’ allegations when contacted. His statement was yet to be received as at the time of going to press.
*Daniel Adugbo – Daily Trust