Oando-Eni Deal: Workers Threaten to Shutdown Operations
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has vowed to down tools and shut down all oil field locations if demands following the acquisition of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) are not met.
Business Post had reported in September that Oando Plc had acquired a 100 per cent stake in the Nigerian subsidiary of Italian giant, Eni.
However, the deal allegedly happened without management addressing the welfare and benefits of the workers and without due process.
The development has led to several protests by members of PENGASSAN since the beginning of September 2023.
Speaking on the next course of action, the National President of PENGASSAN, Mr Festus Usifo, announced that due process must be followed by NAOC, and workers will not be rolled over to Oando Plc, without adequate development plan or severance package for those who have laboured so many years for Agip.
Speaking during a recent television interview, he explained that some of its members have worked for Agip for over 30 years and some were at the point of retirement, and may just want to be paid their severance package to go home.
“What we are doing now is conversation, consultation and discussion with the Agip management of Agip. If they insist on not complying with the right thing, of course, they know the consequences, because we will withdraw our members from the respective field locations.
“The question is, the liabilities that have been incurred by Agip; the pension, gratuity you are supposed to pay these people does Oando Plc have the financial wherewithal to be able to meet these financial obligations to our members?
“As a patriotic association, we are also asking Oando Plc, you are buying Agip what is your development plan? because the future of our members depends on that company, if the company folds, then our members will go home.
“If we are not satisfied with the plan, we will say pay us our obligations, we do not want to be transited into Oando Plc, pay us our benefits. I have worked for you for 25 years or 30 years, pay me my severance and let’s discuss a special separation package so that I go. If I now want to join Oando, it would be based on my discretion; anything I see I will take, but the years I have put in Agip, NAOC must settle me.”
The TUC President further disclosed that indigenous oil firms do not have the capacity to manage and sustain production like the international oil companies, who according to him, inject funds into managing their assets.
He emphasised that Agip must sit down and have a conversation with their members (oil workers) working in the oilfields and locations, as well as ensure their demands are met.
“When the IOCs were managing most of these assets, they had the funds to inject into it for a sustained production, which I know will be the real challenge we would be having now, and these are the discussions we are also fronting with Oando, especially operations like stimulation and well enhancement so that the wells will not start declining.
“We have people who are working in the oilfields and locations; you can not bring people who are dissatisfied to be running your assets it does not work like that. So who is going to run these locations? Is it the management of Oando Plc that will just come there and start pressing the buttons? No, you need these employees. So you must sit down and have a conversation with them.”
The workers have reportedly started actions, including prayer sessions, at the facilities.