By Ejiofor Alike
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Neconde Energy Limited have explained the circumstances that led to the disengagement of 115 ex-staff members of SPDC from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42, saying that the exercise followed due process.
THISDAY reported that a group, which identified itself as Delta Rights had accused Neconde Energy of illegally terminating the appointments of the affected workers.
This action, according to the group, had led to the death one of the workers, Mr. Dan Anyanwu, “who slumped and died as a result of the psychological and mental trauma, he was subjected to from the loss of his job.”
But in separate statements yesterday, SPDC stated that it followed due process in disengaging the workers after it sold OML 42, while Neconde Energy clarified that it disengaged the affected staff because it was no longer the operator of the oil block.
Neconde further disclosed that in line with the Sales Purchase Agreement (SPA) drawn between it and SPDC at the time of acquisition of OML 42, which assumed Neconde Energy as the operator of OML 42, the company had initially inherited the 115 staff and started work with them in January 2012.
The SPA also provided that if the services of the 115 staff were not required in less than two years into their service with Neconde Energy that Neconde was liable to pay for the staff loss of office up to a maximum of two years.
The company however disclosed that by a new decision of the Federal Government, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC assumed operatorship of OML 42 in February 2012 and Neconde became a non-operating partner in the OML 42 Joint Venture.
Neconde stated that being a non-operator, its business model radically changed especially in regard to the 115 ex-SPDC staff members, adding that as a non-operator, it had no vacancies to absorb the affected staff.
“As a consequence Neconde appealed to the SPDC partners to revisit the issue of the 115 employees. An agreement was reached with Shell who accepted to pay the loss of office for the ex-SPDC staff. Neconde who had been paying the salaries of 115 employees, agreed to continue the payments through March 2012,” said the statement.
The company stated that after the loss of office had been paid by Shell and the first quarter salaries paid by Neconde, the employees should pursue employment with the new OML 42 operator, NPDC or any other company.
In a separate statement, Shell’s Media Relations Manager, Mr. Tony Okonedo, stated that in line with Shell’s corporate policy, the company followed due process in the disengagement of the affected workers, who were later offered employment by Neconde.
He stated that the disengagement was as a result of Shell’s divestment in OML 42, adding that the company “fully discharged all outstanding commitments to each impacted staff, including loss of office payments and standard redundancy elements - pension in annuity or lump sum as applicable”.
“SPDC regrets the death of one of its former employees and sympathises with the family, but does not accept that this was connected with recent events as alleged. We do not discuss individual health issues out of respect for the rights to privacy for the individual,” he said.
Okonedo referred further enquires on the matter to either Neconde or NPDC, saying that his company could not respond to enquiries regarding their decisions on the former employees.
“We regard the campaign being run by Delta Rights as being both misdirected and mischievous. It contains allegations that we categorically deny, and threats that we will not respond to,” he added.