Oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers have warned that they will suspend production if the rate of oil theft in the country is not checked.
The unions also threatened that the workers would stop the supply of petroleum products if there was no end to the organised destruction of oil installations in the country.
PENGASSAN’s National Industrial Relations Officer, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, gave the warning on Wednesday while delivering a lecture titled: ‘Escalating oil theft and the Petroleum Industry Bill,’ at a workshop organised by Spaces for Change in Port Harcourt.
Onuegbu said the nation was losing between $6bn and $12bn every year to oil bunkering and illegal refining.
“I want to clearly inform you that if nothing concrete is done to stop oil theft, the oil workers’ unions (PENGASSAN and NUPENG) may be forced to suspend production of crude oil and supply of petroleum products until appropriate action is taken.
“The impact of this ultimately on overall revenue from oil accruing to the Federation Account should be negative and severe as was alluded to by the NNPC recently.”
He explained that Nigerians, especially indigenes of the Niger Delta region, had expected the government to translate the revenue from oil exploitation to urban and rural infrastructure development.
Onuegbu added that oil theft began the moment it became clear that the Federal Government was not committed to the development of the people.
He said, “Since then, both organised and unorganised destruction of oil installations have been on the increase. Most of these were done because of the economic benefits derivable from it.
“Others were carried out as a mark of resistance and protest to the skewed nature of wealth creation and distribution in Nigeria, especially as it affects the oil wealth and the communities.
“Most of the incidences were targeted at stealing products, both crude and refined, which are then sold internationally or refined locally into products.”
On the PIB, Onuegbu said various solutions to oil theft had been proposed, even as he identified the involvement of host communities in the protection of oil installations as one of such proposed solutions.