…insist on rehabilitation, proper maintenancehttp://nationalmirroronline.net/new/oil-workers-reject-plan-to-sell-refi-neries/
Oil workers’ unions have rejected moves by the Federal Government to privatise the four refineries in the country. They based their grouse on the grounds that it was contrary to national interest.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, in a joint statement yesterday said they would resist the sale of the refineries controlled by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The refineries, located in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna, with a combined refining capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, have been plagued by poor performance and frequent breakdowns. The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke and the Bureau for Public Enterprises have confirmed the privatisation plans.
The oil workers said that government had advertently underfunded the refineries and deliberately refused to carry out turn-around maintenance, TAM, and supply crude to the refineries, just to sell them to their cronies. PENGASSAN President, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, advised that instead of opting for outright sale, the government should adopt a modified solution tailored towards the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, model.
He accused the Federal Government of not considering available options and rational rule for such lucrative business deals before the decision to sell the national assets. The PENGASSAN president, who was speaking against the backdrop of the plan to privatise the four refineries by 2014, insisted that the workers would “fight the government’s plan till the last pint of blood in their veins.”
Ogun urged the government to deal with pipelines vandalism that had been hampering the supply of crude oil to the refineries and carry out TAM for them to bounce back. He noted that the issue had been on the front burner since the ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime when the government through the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, hastily sold the refineries.
“The proposed sale of the refineries is against the overall national interest and in the interest of the few who are lurking around the corridor of power to milk the country dry. “How can a country be selling all its national assets all in the name of privatisation? For whose benefit are such sales?” Ogun said.
He recalled that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua reversed former President Obasanjo’s decision, promising to carry out TAM on them to ensure that they were not sold as scraps.
Ogun explained that even the controversial Kalu Idika Kalu-led National Refineries Special Task Force also recommended TAM or rehabilitation of the refineries for them to work in a safe and reliable manner.
“Why is the government proposing sale of these national edifices without doing the needful to ensure that the refineries work at their optimal capacity? Nigerians and the general public deserve to know more on the desperate reasons for the spate and row of proposed privatisation, even when the selfish motives of these proposed national assets sales can spell doom for the country,” the president said.
He, however, suggested that the refineries should be stand-alone entities, independent of the NNPC or the proposed NOC as in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, while the board of management of each refining company should be fully responsible for its success and failure.
According to him, those that are planning to sell the refineries and their cronies planning to buy them should emulate Alhaji Aliko Dangote and establish their own refineries instead of waiting to corner the nation’s common investment interest for their own selfish interest.
The union leader also advised the government to grant incentives for the development of private refineries alongside the existing ones, adding that a framework should be articulated that would make available required crude for effective functioning of local refineries.
“There is need to incentivise and/or compel IOCs to refine an agreed percentage of crude oil in the country. A suggestion is to tie upstream licensing to downstream investment and private ownerships of jetties should be encouraged,” he said.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, had told Bloomberg TV Africa in London last week that the four refineries would be sold by the first quarter of next year.
President Olusegun Obasanjo had initially approved the sale of the refineries during his administration but his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007 reversed the sale of the refineries for lack of transparency in the transaction.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan in November 2012 recommended that the refineries should be sold due to inadequate financing and sub-optimal performance.
It is uncertain, however, if the Federal Government would take into consideration the right of first refusal, which was granted business moguls, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, who bought the Port Harcourt refinery in 2007, but was reversed by the late Yar’Adua. Should the government factor this in the transaction, new prospective bidders would have to contend with both of them.
BPE’s Head, Public Communications, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, however, said the privatisation plans were currently at the preliminary stage, where the blueprint of the policy would be decided. “We are working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Ministry of Petroleum Resources on the privatisation of the four refineries.
“We are just in the preliminary discussion with them and very soon, we will make public the work plan for the privatisation processes, including the engagement of advisers to advise us on the transaction.
“Once the work plan is fine-tuned, hopefully by the end of the year or early January next year, the work plan as well as the schedule will be unveiled to all stakeholders, including the media,’’ he had said.
This comming from supposely intelligent people is a surprise, it reminds me of NEPA staff opposing the sale of NEPA....
Y not allow govt to seel of the damn thing and concentrate of regulation