23 October 2016, Lagos – The divestment by United States-based ExxonMobil of its 60 per cent stake in Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc has triggered fears of job losses.
Our correspondent gathered from a memo addressed to the oil major’s upstream employees and contract workers in Nigeria that the transaction included all the 250 company-owned and dealer-owned Mobil-branded retail stations, the fuel terminal and the lubricant plant in Apapa, and interests in the two aviation fuel joint ventures in Lagos.
The Chairman/Managing Director, ExxonMobil Upstream Companies in Nigeria, Nolan O’Neal, said, “The sale also includes an office building and other real estate in Lagos that is owned by Mobil Oil Nigeria and currently leased by Mobil Producing Nigeria.
“We anticipate that Mobil Producing Nigeria will continue to lease those properties consistent with current lease agreements. Subject to regulatory approval, the change in control is expected to take place in the first half of 2017.”
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Lagos Zone, AlhajiTokunboKorodo, described the divestment as a bad development, saying the country’s oil industry was not conducive for investors.
He, however, said it was good that indigenous investors would be taking over the assets.
Korodo said, “Jobs will be threatened. Any divestment will surely lead to job losses. If care is not taken, they may downsize. And if they downsize, that will call for agitation from NUPENG.
“The government should not treat this divestment with kid gloves. It should be seriously dealt with.”
The Chairman, Petroleum Industry Bill Committee, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and immediate past Chairman, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Rivers State, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, said over the years, big-time investors had been losing confidence in the country and divesting from it.
He said, “While it presents an opportunity for Nigerian investors to take advantage of the situation and see what they can make of it, the truth remains that there is massive divestment both in the downstream and upstream sectors by the IOCs.
“Obviously, jobs are threatened. The downstream sector has been bedevilled by so many challenges. The foreign exchange crisis is the latest. So, jobs are going to be threatened.”