PIB: Oil workers demand 30% local refining

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Victor AHIUMA-YOUNG

OIL workers in Nigeria have demanded that the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, should have a provision compelling oil companies to locally refine not less than 30 percent of crude produced in the nation’s petroleum industry.

Under the umbrella of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, condemned the excessive power granted to the President and the Minister of Petroleum in the Bill before the National Assembly.

At a recent Joint National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Calabar, Cross River State, operating under NUPENGASSAN, a fusion of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, said in spite  of the flaws in the Bill, it should not be thrown away.

NUPENGASSAN in a communiqué after the NEC meeting, argued that the identified flaws be perfected to the benefit of Nigeria in particular, and other stakeholders in general.

According to the communiqué by Comrades Babatunde Ogun and Bayo Olowoshile, President and General Secretary of PENGASSAN, as well as Igwe Achese and Isaac Aberare, President and Acting General Secretary of NUPENG, respectively, said, “The NEC-in-Session critically examined the PIB currently before the National Assembly and establishes that, though there are flaws in the Bill, it should not be thrown away or discarded.

“The NEC-in-Session therefore demands that the flaws in the PIB should be amended and/or corrected before its passage by the National Assembly. The NEC-in-Session agrees that the PIB should ensure a balance between government stake and investor interests to ensure the continued growth of the oil and gas industry.

“The NEC-in-Session notes that the PIB is purportedly premised on transparency and accountability; the NEC-in-session however observes that the PIB as it is presently drafted does not guarantee the transparency and accountability objectives of the Bill. The NEC-in-Session therefore demands that the transparency and accountability provisions of the bill be strengthened. The NEC-in-Session condemns the discretionary and excessive powers accorded the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the President in the PIB. The NEC-in-Session therefore demands the removal of these discretionary and excessive powers from the bill.”

The communiqué noted that “The NEC-in-Session notes that labour issues relating to staff transfer, conditions of service, severances, pensions and gratuities were deliberately and absolutely left out in the PIB. The NEC-in-Session therefore demands that all labour issues, including transfer of staff, pension and gratuities should be properly addressed and captured in the PIB.

“The NEC-in-Session frowns at the non-inclusion of NUPENG and PENGASSAN in the Boards of Institutions and Agencies in the Oil and Gas industry. The NEC-in-Session demands that NUPENG and PENGASSAN should be included in the Boards of Institutions and Agencies in Pre-PIB and post-PIB era such as NCDMB, PTI, PPRA, PEF, PTDF, DPR, UPI, DPRA, etc.”

“The NEC-in-Session demands that the PIB include a provision that a percentage of not less than 30% of the crude oil produced by Oil Companies in Nigeria be refined in-country while adequate provisions must also be made in the Bill to encourage downstream Petroleum Refining.”

On the persistent fuel scarcity and the nation’s refineries, the communiqué declared that “the NEC-in-Session notes with dismay the resurgence of fuel scarcity now pervading the length and breadth of the country and the resultant sale of petrol above the official pump price. The NEC–in-Session hereby calls on the Federal Government to take appropriate steps to end the scarcity in the interest of the nation.”

“The NEC–in-Session demands that government should provide more incentives to encourage investments in the downstream sector, especially the building of refineries and petro-chemical plants by investors. The NEC-in-Session notes that the scanty provisions made in the PIB on the downstream petroleum sector (especially refining), does not adequately provide enough incentives that would engender local refining in Nigeria.

“The NEC-in-Session demands immediate commencement of the Turn Around maintenance (TAM) of the existing refineries as earlier promised by the Federal government during the January 2012 fuel subsidy protest, so as to increase local refining capacity; improve availability of petroleum products and ensure job security.”

“The NEC-in-Session notes the intrigues surrounding the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu Committee report on Petroleum Revenue and demands that government respects the findings of the committee and implements its recommendations. The NEC-in-Session also notes the Kalu Idika Kalu report on refineries.

“The NEC-in-Session completely disagrees with any recommendation of the committee that will decimate or further delay the comprehensive Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the nation’s refineries. The NEC-in-Session equally rejects the idea of balkanizing the products pipeline network under the whims of un-bundling and urges the Idika Kalu Committee to respect the superior arguments on this issue.”

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