- ExxonMobil to Pay N350m Each as Severance Package to Sacked Senior Employees
U.S. oil giant, ExxonMobil Corporation, will pay up to N350 million each to some of the sacked Nigerian employees as severance payments, driven by years of service and additional redundancy gratuities.
It was also learnt that of about six per cent of the workforce affected by the right sizing carried out by the firm, the average payment per person hovers around N140 million, including redundancy pay of about 36 months basic salary.
This is coming as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has invited the protesting oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) for a meeting tomorrow to resolve the labour crisis.
The aggrieved oil workers of the company on Thursday shut down the company’s corporate head office in Lagos indefinitely in protest over the attempt by the company to sack over 150 workers.
The protesting workers had accused the company of flagrant violation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act by deploying expatriates to take over jobs for which there is local capacity.
The workers had also insisted that the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Nolan O’Neal, must be relieved of his duties.
But top officials of the company who spoke off the record at the weekend said that 2016 was a challenging year for Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), a Nigerian affiliate of ExxonMobil, with the profitability of the affiliate being the worst in recent history.
According to one of the officials, while costs are down, revenue is down by almost three quarter, even as the company has spent more than its earnings to ensure that its contractors and employees were paid.
“Some of the resultant effects on the business have included scaled down operations, reduced personnel, uplift project deferments, and contract renegotiations. Against this backdrop, any responsible company would take steps to ensure survival,” he said.
He described the company’s ongoing redundancy programme, which he said was targeted at lower performing employees, as one of the steps taken by the company towards survival.
Another official of the company further revealed that the employees impacted accounted for only about six per cent of the workforce that were offered an enhanced benefits package in excess of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed with the in-house union.
He added that post-employment support programmes to support their transition period from the company were also included in the package.
“The severance payments driven by years of service and additional redundancy gratuities are in some cases up to N350 million for an employee. For the total population affected, average payment per person hovers around N140 million.
“The pay package covered redundancy pay of about 36 months basic salary, Settling-in allowance of up to two months basic salary, additional pay to address economic realities of up to three months basic salary, and notice pay of three months basic salary,” he explained.
On the allegations of non-compliance with the extant laws and agreements levelled against the company, the official argued that neither the Nigerian labour law nor the CBA with the union requires alignment between the company and the union in the event of redundancy actions.
According to him, the CBA (Clause 23b) states that “whenever redundancy actions are contemplated, the company shall inform the association of the intended action and the association may bring to the company’s attention any problems that it believes are involved”.
He added that the Nigerian Labour Act (Clause 20a) also states that “in the event of redundancy, the employer shall inform the trade union or workers’ representative concerned of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy”.
The official revealed that the union disagreed with the company’s notification, and also abandoned the provisions of the CBA, which specifically states in Clause 13b that “if a dispute arises during the subsistence of the agreement, either party shall comply with the current law governing Trade Disputes in Nigeria and neither party shall resort to arbitrary strike action or lockout”.
He accused the workers of disregarding the provisions of the CBA to embark on actions that “border on harassment of fellow employees, breach of security, health and safety protocols, destruction of the company’s property and other actions that impacted the general welfare of all personnel including their members”.
“We even understand that they shut down power to the staff clinic, and chased away medical personnel on duty, thereby putting the lives of patients at risk,” he added.
He further disclosed that even with the intervention of Kachikwu, who personally appealed to both the union chairman and secretary, extending invitations for a meeting tomorrow, the union resorted to taking steps that might impact production activities within 24 hours.
On the allegation by the workers that the company was hiring expatiates to replace Nigerians, the official disclosed that the company had demobilised 40 per cent of its expatriates in the wake of the current challenges.
According to him “We are at our lowest ever number of expats in country.”
Despite the clarification provided by a source in ExxonMobil, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) said at the weekend that it would begin a three-day nationwide warning strike by January 9, 2017, against the anti-labour practice of the international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the country.
The South-west chairman of the union, Alhaji Tokunbo, told newsmen in Lagos that the warning strike was inevitable because all other options had failed.
According to Korodo, “We are not gaining anything by going on strike because it is not a joyful thing but as a union, we have to protect and fight for the welfare of our members.
“We have sensitised the public and also sought the intervention of the federal government over the anti-labour activities of the IOCs on our members but we are not getting results.
“Our members that put in their best within the duration of time they worked were not paid their severance packages by their employers when they sacked them.
“This is a big slap and it will not be allowed. What they are practising here in Nigeria, they cannot practise in their countries, so that is why we say enough is enough. We will take the bull by the horn,” he said.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the chairman said that the issues leading to the planned warning strike were inherited by the present administration, while some occurred within the same government.
He said: “Two hundred and fifty members of our union were affected by the divestment by Chevron Nigeria Ltd., in the South-East.
“And this is giving us serious concern because they cannot feed their families. The Minister of Labour, Sen. Chris Ngige, asked all the parties to maintain the status-quo ante and we complied because we respect the authorities.
“But the IOCs seem to be above the law or more powerful than the government; they failed to maintain the status-quo ante that was amicably agreed to by both parties.
“Chevron had to tell our 250 members that their contracts with it were no more binding on it because it cannot trace the company that employed them as contract workers for it.
“The minister said that Chevron had to pay the sacked workers but its management refused to comply. It got to a time when Sen. Ngige called for a meeting in Abuja to mediate; at times its representatives would not show up.
“We would risk our lives and resources and go to Abuja, no IOCs member would come.
“Even when their representatives came, they would be those without a mandate to represent the organisation just to frustrate the discussion,” he said.
He said all the IOCs in the country were involved in the anti-labour practices. “We do not want the public to experience the strike as though we are unnecessarily punishing Nigerians.
“That’s why we are using this period to protest by asking tanker drivers to hang green leaves on their trucks and our members to wear red cloth.
“By next year, if our grievances are not addressed within this period, we will proceed on a three-day warning strike. If the government and people concerned are not able to apprehend and resolve it, we may be forced to turn the strike into an indefinite one,” he said.
Africa Renewable Energy Fund II Secures €125 Million First Close With SEFA and CTF Investments
The Africa Renewable Energy Fund II has achieved its first close at €125 million, following a joint investment of €17.5 million from The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Climate Technology Fund through the African Development Bank.
AREF II, a successor to the original Fund, is a 10-year closed-ended renewable energy Private Equity Fund with a $300 million target capitalization. The Africa Renewable Energy Fund II, managed by Berkeley Energy, invests in early-stage renewable energy projects, thereby not only de-risking the most uncertain phase of power projects, but also promoting increased green baseload in Africa’s generation mix.
The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Climate Technology Fund will each contribute roughly €8.7 million to mobilize private-sector investment into Africa’s renewable energy sector. The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa will also contribute financing to the AREF II Project Support Facility, which funds technical assistance and early-stage project support to improve bankability.
Other investors include the U.K’s CDC Group, Italy’s CDP, the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and SwedFund.
“We are proud to be associated with Berkeley Energy and other like-minded investors, and look forward to AREF’s continued success and leadership in promoting sustainable power development on the continent,” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
In 2012, the African Development Bank selected Berkeley Energy, a seasoned fund manager of clean energy projects in global emerging markets to set up AREF. AREF II has a sharper strategic focus than its predecessor on “green baseload” projects that will deliver firm and dispatchable power to African power systems through hydro, solar, wind and battery storage technologies.
Luka Buljan, Berkeley Energy’s Managing Director, said: “We are very excited to have reached this milestone with strong support from our backers. The catalytic tranche from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Climate Technology Fund will assist in mobilising private institutional investors up to full fund size of €300 million. We now look forward to concluding the fundraising and delivering projects that will provide clean, reliable and affordable energy across African markets.”
“AREF is intertwined with the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa’s history and success, and we have worked closely over the last decade to create precedents in difficult markets and challenging technologies. We look forward to continued collaboration to accelerate the energy transition in Africa,” said Joao Duarte Cunha, Manager for Renewable Energy Initiatives at the African Development Bank and Coordinator of the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.
FG Earned $34.22B From Crude Oil and Gas in 2019 – NEITI
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Thursday released its 2019 oil and gas industry audit report, which shows that Nigeria earned N34.22 billion from the oil and gas industry in 2019.
The audit, conducted by Adeshile Adedeji & Co. (Chartered Accountants), an indigenous accounting and auditing firm, reconciled payments from 98 entities. They include 88 oil and gas companies, nine government agencies and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
The 2019 figure is an increase of 4.88 percent over the $32.63billion revenue realised from the sector in 2018. A breakdown of the earnings showed that payments by companies accounted for $18.90billion, while flows from federation sales of crude oil and gas accounted for $15.32billion.
The report further showed that 10 years (2010-2019) aggregate financial flows from the oil and gas sector to government amounted to $418.544billion, with the highest revenue flow of $68.442 recorded in 2011, while the lowest revenue flow of $17.055 was recorded in 2016.
According to NEITI, the total crude oil production in 2019 was 735.244mmbbls, representing an increase of 4.87 percent over the 701.101mmbbls recorded in 2018. Production sharing contracts (PSCs) contributed the highest volumes of 312.042mmbbls followed by Joint Venture (JV) and Sole Risk (SR) which recorded 310,284mmbbls and 89.824mmbbls respectively. Others are Marginal Fields (MFs) and Service Contracts (SCs) which accounted for 21,762mmbbls and 1,330mmbbls respectively.
The report also showed that total crude oil lifted in 2019 was 735.661mmbbls, indicating a 4.93 percent increase to the 701.090 mmbbls recorded in 2018, with companies lifting 469.010mmbbls, while 266.650mmbbls was lifted by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on behalf of the federation.
Analysis of crude oil lifted by NNPC showed that 159.411mmbbls was for export, while 107.239mmbbls was for domestic refining. 97 percent of the volumes for domestic refining (104.475mmbbls) was utilised for the Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) programme while the remaining 3 percent (2.764mmbbls) was delivered to the refineries.
NEITI reported that the value of the 2019 domestic crude oil earnings was N2.722 trillion. Of this figure, N518.074billion was deducted for Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) under-recovery by the NNPC.
This figure was N213.074billon above the approved sum of N305billion for under-recovery in 2019. Similarly, the sum of N126.664billion was incurred by the Corporation as costs for pipeline repairs and maintenances which showed a difference of N96.378billion from the approved sum of N30.287billion for that purpose.
The report also pointed out that N31.844billion was also deducted for crude and product losses due to theft.
Oil Prices Drop on Stronger U.S Dollar
The strong U.S Dollar pressured global crude oil prices on Thursday despite the big drop in U.S crude oil inventories.
The Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dropped by 74 cents or 1 percent to settle at $73.65 a barrel at 4.03 am Nigerian time on Thursday.
The U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil depreciated by 69 cents or 1 percent to $71.46 a barrel after reaching its highest since October 2018 on Wednesday.
“Energy markets became so fixated over a robust summer travel season and Iran nuclear deal talks that they somewhat got blindsided by the Fed’s hawkish surprise,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“The Fed was expected to be on hold and punt this meeting, but they sent a clear message they are ready to start talking about tapering and that means the dollar is ripe for a rebound which should be a headwind for all commodities.”
The U.S. dollar boasted its strongest single day gain in 15 months after the Federal Reserve signaled it might raise interest rates at a much faster pace than assumed.
A firmer greenback makes oil priced in dollars more expensive in other currencies, potentially weighing on demand.
Still, oil price losses were limited as data from the Energy Information Administration showed that U.S. crude oil stockpiles dropped sharply last week as refineries boosted operations to their highest since January 2020, signaling continued improvement in demand.
Also boosting prices, refinery throughput in China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, rose 4.4% in May from the same month a year ago to a record high.
“This pullback in oil prices should be temporary as the fundamentals on both the supply and demand side should easily be able to compensate for a rebounding dollar,” Moya said.
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