Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has assured the Federal Government that oil workers may not embark on another round of industrial action if the plans by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to rehabilitate the four state-owned refineries are realised.
NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr Makanti Baru, had stated that the Federal Government would return the refineries to their nameplates by the end of 2019. The refineries are Port Harcourt 1& 2, Warri and Kaduna.
Immediate past PENGASSAN chairman, Port Harcourt Refineries branch, Mr. Mike Agbana, said oil workers are not thinking of embarking on strike now, adding that the issue of returning the refineries to optimal capacity is uppermost in the minds of the workers now.
Agbana said: “In every 24 months, Port Harcourt refineries and other government owned refineries are expected to undergo turnaround maintenance in line with industry standard. But that has not been possible. Since year 2000, Port Harcourt refineries have not experienced any turnaround initiative. To be frank, the refineries are dead. This informed the decision of workers to advocate for at least, 90 per cent output of the refineries and not strike action.
“In the first leg of the rehabilitation of the refineries, Eni-Agip and other critical stakeholders in the sector will play a role, which is good news for the industry and the country, which has been spending huge amount of money to subsidise the importation of fuel into the country.”
Agbana said the decision by NNPC to rehabilitate the refineries would help in easing fuel scarcity and further increase availability of the petroleum products, especially Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which the country uses a lot for economic activities.
“Two achievements are expected to be recorded by the government’s plans to fix the refineries. First is the fact that there would be more fuel in the country. Secondly, more job opportunities will be created, when refineries work at optimum capacity. That is, thousands of jobs that have been lost to sordid state of the refineries would be recovered soon.”
According to him, the workers are not expecting the government to out-rightly sell the refineries, but adopt the structures used in bringing the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to optimum production for reviving the refineries also.
He said when Dr. Baru promised to rehabilitate the refineries on March 21, this year, the statement was greeted with applause from the stakeholders, especially the workers.
He said the reason was because the idea will lay to rest the issue of poor performance of the refineries.
Past governments, especially those before the All Progressive Party (APC) government, he said, spent years to retool the refineries, but to no avail, stressing that workers had thought that NNPC would do the same thing.
Agbana said NNPC has proved everybody wrong by organizing what he described as a ground breaking ceremony for the rehabilitation of the refineries, a development, which would return the country to era of abundance of fuel supply.