Azudialu-Obiejesi: Neconde Still Owes 10 Banks over $558m for OML 42

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• Faults PENGASSAN over today’s picketing

By Ejiofor Alike

The Group Managing Director of Obijackson Group, Mr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, has stated that one of the group’s subsidiaries, Neconde Energy, is still indebted to over10 banks for the $558 million paid by the company for the acquisition of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42 from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its partners.

Speaking yesterday in Lagos on the successes and feats of the company, Azudialu-Obiejesi also faulted the plan by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to picket Neconde (today), saying it was not right for his workers to use the labour union to close down a one-man company that employs over 2,500 Nigerians.

He noted that apart from the $558 million used for the acquisition of OML 42, his company has also invested millions of dollars to repair the associated pipelines and flow stations, which were vandalised before the sale of the asset.

Azudialu-Obiejesi further stated that before the militants attacked the Forcados pipeline in February 2016, OML was producing between 51,000 and 52,000 barrels per day.

He added that after the attack, there was no production for six months before it ramped up to the current 15,000 barrels per day, which is evacuated in barges, as Forcados is still shut down.

The businessman wondered how the oil workers, who were aware of these challenges, could go ahead to picket the company when they are not owed salary arrears.

“If you are in a union, you should understand clearly the difference between a multinational, a company that represents the government like the NNPC, and NPDC, and a business set up by one man with his hard-earned money; money borrowed from the banks, and the value he created by providing jobs,” he explained.

According to him, the oil workers should not compare Shell, ExxonMobil and NNPC with Neconde, which was set up with money borrowed from the banks just for the acquisition of OML 42.

Also speaking, Neconde’s Managing Director, Mr. Frank Edozie, acknowledged the centrality of employees to the success of the organisation, saying “our workforce has remained a key factor in the evolution of Neconde, and their wellbeing remains important to us”.

According to him, labour union can create values and can also destroy values, adding that the plan by the union to picket the company could destroy good order and values.

He said the company was in talks with the leadership of PENASSAN to ensure that they reach a mutually beneficial agreement on some of the demands presented by the association.

“Even as at today, the management provided the association with an update and called for a meetin g to discuss any remaining potential areas that may still exist. So far, management and the company have enjoyed their co-operation and hope that the association will continue to abide by best-in-class labour union practices by exploring negotiation and collaboration as labour relations tactics. We are a people-centred organisation, so the value we place on employees is not just because we know that our continued existence is dependent on them, but mainly because every human being deserves as good life, and should be treated fairly,” he said.

 “For instance, a component of our strategic goal for the year is to achieve an estimate of 70,000bpd. This has led us to develop “barged production” as an alternative to crude evacuation using the Trans Forcados Pipeline which has been out of service since February 13, 2016.  We have also undertaken some strategic steps, such as rehabilitation of Batan and Odidi Flow Stations to enable the achievement of our targeted peak gross production rate, revamping of Jones Creek and Egwa Fields for workover of existing wells and development of other infrastructure which includes refurbishing a gas Central Processing Facility (CPF) in Odidi as well as commencement of re-entry of Odidi, Jones Creek fields Egwa 1 and 2. Additionally, we had to relocate our operations to Warri from Lagos, for us to be closer to the base to better enable us to meet our goals of increasing our contributions to the Nigerian economy. Expectedly, this relocation meant redeployment of employees to the new location, and this was executed in a manner that the associated inconveniences to employees were duly considered and properly mitigated,” Edozie added.