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Paris Club Refund: Strike, Protests Loom in States Over Unpaid Salary Arrears

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  • Paris Club Refund: Strike, Protests Loom in States Over Unpaid Salary Arrears

There are indications that workers in some states in the country will soon embark on demonstrations or strike action over unpaid salary arrears in their respective states.

A trustee of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Mr. Fatai Ibrahim, on Friday said NULGE would engage in demonstrations, work to rule and even strike action in states where the governors failed to remit to the local governments their share of the expected last tranche of the Paris Club refund.

Speaking in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, during a media briefing by the state branch of NULGE, Ibrahim added that the union would engage governors of the states that fail to remit the funds to the local government, adding that where the engagements, negotiations and dialogue fail, the union would embark on strike action to get the governors accede to the workers’ demands.

Also, the state Chairman of NULGE, Alhaji Salihu Yusuf, has urged Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to ensure that the share of the local governments was paid to them when the state gets the final tranche of the Paris Club refund. He also stressed that the payment of some of the arrears being owed them would greatly alleviate their plight.

He said, “The Kwara State Governor has been saying that local governments will not benefit from the expected Paris Club refund and that we should not be expecting that arrears of salaries being owed workers in various local governments across the state would be paid from the Paris Club refunds.

“Other states are declaring certain percentages in favour of their local governments, why should Kwara State be an exception?”

He also urged the state House of Assembly to vote in favour of local government autonomy to create genuine development at the grass roots, adding that the governor should not wait until all LG workers were dead due to poverty and hardship before he came to their aid.

He also said the payment of junior secondary school teachers’ salaries from the local government allocation through the Joint Account Allocation Committee was responsible for the about 10 months’ arrears of salaries in local governments, adding that the local governments should be freed from that burden.

But the governor, while responding, said the state had accessed 50 per cent of the refund, adding that arrangement was on to end salary crisis in the 16 local government areas of the state.

He said he had met with the local government chairmen with the aim of identifying their problems and finding possible solutions to them.

He said, “What we are doing is to find a permanent solution to the problem. Giving them funds to clear the backlog of salaries is not the solution, but to find the means of improving their revenue base because of the continued drop in federal allocation.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Teachers in Kwara State has given the state government an ultimatum to address some lingering labour issues in the state before December 31, 2017, or else the union would not guarantee the resumption of teachers when schools resume on January 8, 2018.

The teachers, in a communiqué after the meeting of the state executive council, on Friday, stated that the labour issues bordered mainly on the payment of salary arrears, the position of the state government not to use the Paris Club refund to offset the salary arrears of its members as earlier pledged, allegedly, at different forums and refusal to implement promotion arrears with its attendant financial backing from 2015 till date.

The communiqué, signed by the state NUT Chairman, Alhaji Musa Abubakar, and the state NUT Secretary, Mr. Ola Idris, partly read, “In view of these, the House resolved that these issues must immediately be addressed before the end of 2017, otherwise, the union cannot guarantee resumption of our members on January 8, 2018.

But the state government has urged the teachers to embrace dialogue, adding that strike was never a good way to address industrial issues.

The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Babatunde Ajeigbe, in an interview with journalists, stated that the governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, was deeply concerned and committed to the welfare of the residents of the state, including teachers, saying the outstanding payment due to the drop in federal allocation.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slip as Japan’s Rising Inflation Signals Rate Hikes

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Crude oil fell in early trading on Friday as concerns over sustained high interest rates in both Asia and the United States weighed on the outlook.

This trend is attributed to Japan’s increasing inflation, which is prompting expectations of imminent rate hikes by its central bank.

Brent crude edged declined by 11 cents to settle at $85.60 per barrel while the U.S. crude oil declined by 9 cents to $81.20 per barrel.

Recent data revealed that Japan’s core consumer prices rose by 2.5% in May compared to the same month last year. This increase marks a growth from the previous month, suggesting that the Bank of Japan is likely to raise interest rates in the upcoming months to curb inflation.

In the United States, data released on Thursday showed a decrease in the number of new unemployment claims for the week ending June 14, indicating continued strength in the job market.

This persistent robustness in employment raises the likelihood that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain higher interest rates for a longer period.

Higher interest rates typically have a dampening effect on economic activity, which can subsequently reduce oil demand.

The prospect of prolonged elevated interest rates in two major economies has therefore put downward pressure on crude oil prices.

Despite the downward trend, oil prices received some support from the latest figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The data showed a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories by 2.5 million barrels in the week ending June 14, bringing the total to 457.1 million barrels. This exceeded analysts’ expectations, who had predicted a 2.2 million-barrel reduction.

Also, gasoline inventories fell by 2.3 million barrels to 231.2 million barrels, contrary to forecasts that anticipated a 600,000-barrel increase.

“Gasoline finally came to life and posted its first strong report of the summer driving season,” remarked Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York, highlighting the surprising uptick in gasoline demand.

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Nembe Creek Oil Field Halted After Leak, Impacting 150,000 bpd

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Nigeria’s oil output has taken a significant hit following the shutdown of the Nembe Creek oil field due to a major oil leak.

The Nembe Creek oil field, responsible for producing approximately 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd), was forced to cease operations on June 17, 2024.

The leak occurred on the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), a critical pipeline that transports oil from the Nembe Creek oil field to the Bonny Oil Export Terminal.

The operator of the pipeline, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, confirmed the leak and the subsequent shutdown in a statement released yesterday.

Aiteo reported that the leak was discovered during routine operations in the Nembe area of Bayelsa State, located in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta region.

This region is notorious for environmental degradation due to decades of oil spills, which have severely impacted local agriculture and fishing industries.

Following the discovery of the leak, Aiteo activated its Oil Spill and Emergency Response Team and shut down all production from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 as a precautionary measure to prevent further environmental damage.

“While we regret the production losses and the potential environmental impact, our current priority is to expedite an efficient spill management process in line with regulatory standards and collaborate with all stakeholders to restore production and mitigate associated risks,” said Victor Okronkwo, Managing Director of Aiteo Eastern E&P.

The exact cause of the leak remains unknown. Aiteo emphasized that the shutdown was a precautionary step to contain the spill and minimize environmental harm.

The company has notified its joint venture partners and relevant regulatory bodies, including the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), about the incident.

This development comes as a setback for Nigeria, which holds Africa’s largest natural gas reserves and is a major oil producer.

The country’s oil sector has faced numerous challenges, including aging infrastructure, theft, and environmental issues, which have hindered its ability to maximize production and exports.

The Nembe Creek shutdown also highlights ongoing concerns about the safety and reliability of Nigeria’s oil infrastructure. The NCTL has been a frequent target of oil theft and sabotage, exacerbating the challenges of maintaining a steady oil output.

Energy analysts believe that the latest incident could impact Nigeria’s ability to meet its export commitments and exacerbate the country’s economic challenges.

The Nigerian government, under President Bola Tinubu, has been making efforts to attract investment into the energy sector to boost production and address infrastructure deficits.

“The government will hope this offers confidence not only in the quality of the Nigerian resource base, but also in the government’s pledge to improve ease of doing business,” said Clementine Wallop, director of sub-Saharan Africa at political risk consultancy Horizon Engage.

As Nigeria works to address the immediate spill and restore production, the broader implications for the country’s oil sector and its environmental impact remain to be seen.

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Brent Crude Nears Seven-Week Highs as Market Eyes US Inventory Report

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Brent oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, remained steady on Thursday, hovering just below seven-week highs as the escalating conflict in the Middle East raised concerns over potential supply disruptions.

At the same time, the market eagerly awaits U.S. inventory data for further indications of demand trends.

August Brent crude rose 28 cents, or 0.3%, to $85.35 a barrel while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil gained 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $81.70 a barrel.

“There was no WTI settlement on Wednesday due to a U.S. public holiday, which kept trading subdued,” noted Ricardo Evangelista, an analyst at ActivTrades.

“However, oil prices are likely to remain supported around current levels due to a growing geopolitical risk premium driven by conflict in the Middle East.”

Israeli forces have intensified their operations in the Gaza Strip, targeting areas in the central region overnight while tanks advanced into Rafah in the south.

The escalating violence has heightened fears of a broader conflict that could impact oil supplies from the region.

“Expectations of an inventory build appear to be overshadowing fears of escalating geopolitical stress for now,” said Priyanka Sachdeva, senior market analyst at Phillip Nova.

Investors are keenly awaiting the release of U.S. inventory data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Thursday, delayed by a day due to the Juneteenth holiday.

An industry report released on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API) indicated that U.S. crude stocks rose by 2.264 million barrels in the week ending June 14, while gasoline inventories fell, according to market sources.

The summer season typically sees an uptick in oil demand due to increased refinery runs and weather-related risks.

“Ongoing production cuts by the OPEC+ group, combined with seasonal demand, should tighten oil balances and lead to inventory draws during the summer months,” J.P. Morgan commodities analysts wrote.

Refining margins have also improved, with the ICE gasoil futures premium to Brent crude jumping to $20.63 a barrel on Wednesday, a two-month high.

“Firmer fuel refining margins provide a healthy dose of encouragement for those expecting improvements on the demand side,” commented Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM.

In other economic news, the Bank of England’s decision to keep its main interest rate unchanged at a 16-year high of 5.25% ahead of the national election on July 4 has been noted by market observers.

Higher interest rates generally increase the cost of borrowing, which can slow economic activity and dampen oil demand.

As the market braces for the upcoming EIA inventory report, analysts and traders are closely watching for any signals that could influence oil prices in the near term.

The delicate balance between geopolitical tensions and supply-demand fundamentals continues to play a critical role in shaping the oil market landscape.

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