Ejiofor Alike

Senior oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have said that the organised labour was not carried along in the decision of the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Minister of States for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had disclosed that the federal government would this week announce the final outcome of its planned major overhaul of the entire structures of the state-run oil company. Kachikwu said the structural overhaul would see the national oil company broken into five major operational zones and about 30 independent companies with their chief executive officers given measurable targets to achieve.

But the National President of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson told THISDAY last night that he was surprised at the announcement as the government did not involve labour in the unbundling process.
He said the labour should have been carried along because the unbundling would ultimately have labour implications.

Johnson noted that when the issue of job losses arose because of the drop in oil prices, the Minister of Labour negotiated with both the unions and the international oil companies (IOCs) and wondered why the minister of petroleum would carry on such far-reaching decision without involving the unions.

“We just heard the announcement on air just like every other person. How can he (minister) just go to the air to make the announcement that the NNPC will be unbundled this week, without carrying the labour along? It is like putting the cart before the horse. When things like that are going to be done, everybody that will drive the process should be carried along,” Johnson explained.
He said the focus of the government should be how to create jobs in the face of the drop in the oil prices.

When asked what will be the reaction of PENGASSAN to the unbundling of the NNPC, Johnson said “we will put heads together and come up with a position statement.”

Speaking at the 25th Annual Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum (OLEF) of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Nigerian Council, Kachikwu also said the structural shift would also see these new companies competing for business opportunities across the global oil and gas industry with sustainable profits expected from them.

“We are starting first with simple governance issues, those that are not contentious and the way that we are going, that is very rapid and that deals a lot with the transformation of the National Oil Company,” said Kachikwu.

Kachikwu said on the NNPC overhaul plan that: “For the National Oil Company, a lot of work is going on, I am sure some of you have seen the effects but within the next one week, we are going to be announcing some really major overhaul of the system, one that hasn’t been done in over 20 years.”

“The effect of that would be to quite frankly unbundle the huge company into four to five main operational zones; the upstream, downstream, midstream, refining and of course every other companies that is trending to the venture group.

“But what is more important is that at the same time, we are also unbundling the subsets of these companies to about 30 independent companies with their own Managing Directors and so titles like the Group Executive Directors which you have been used to in the last 30 years will disappear and in place of that, you are going to have Chief Executive Officers,” he added.