PENGASSAN threatens total shut down of oil production over oil theft

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Nigerians may soon experienced another fuel crisis as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) yesterday threatened to withdraw its members from oil and gas installations across the country over menace of increasing oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

The union equally vowed to chase out cartels and perpetrators of oil theft out of business to salvage the nation’s economy from total collapse.
Against this backdrop, the union today said it is holding a nationwide rallies across its four zonal headquarters, Lagos, Abuja, Warri and Port-Harcourt to draw attention of Nigerians to the issue that has pauperized the country.

Addressing the media at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, on the theme ‘Chasing Oil Thieves and Vandals Out of Business,’ President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo warned that if after couple of months there is no substantial improvement, the union would not hesitate to escalate its action to total shut down of the entire production and services of the downstream sector.

Osifo, who lamented that the menace was a real time challenge, said government must develop the muscle and the political will to chase out oil thieves vandalizing the nation’s pipelines.
Noting that crude oil theft had crumbled the economy and the union could no longer hold its breath, he lamented that due to oil theft, Nigeria could no longer meet up with OPEC quota of 1.8million barrels of crude oil, even as the country is struggling to produce a million barrel, because the products are stolen, while companies are shutting down production.

He stated that the union had engaged and dialogued with critical stakeholders, agencies of government and service chiefs on how to curb oil theft, stating that despite all meetings, none had yielded the desired result, due to the cartels that are largely feasting on it and crumbling the economy.

To this end, he said the union could not take it anymore, rather than to embark on a national rally to sensitize Nigerians on what is going on in the sector and the reason the economy is not growing as expected.
According to the PENGASSAN President, this is the first time crude oil price is hitting the roof of $100 per barrel in the international market and Nigeria continues to borrow.

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“This is a menace that is leapfrogging the country. This is the reason Nigeria keeps borrowing to finance the national budget. Enough is enough. We have to add our voice to the current struggle. It is not going to be a one-off thing. Companies are shutting down, our members are losing their jobs in services and producing companies. Their lives are being threatened as well, as those cartels called us at times when the companies failed to pump into the pipelines for them to steal.

“The business is that bad now because companies are struggling to sustain the workforce. This is a real crisis that government of the day must develop the muscle and political will to chase out the oil thieves. What is happening is beyond blame game. This is the time to practicalise what we have been saying. The earlier government acts fact, the better for the economy,” he stated.

Osifo charged the service chiefs to march thier talks with action and hold their officers manning the pipelines accountable, stating that anyone that compromises should be sent to the prison, as it would serve as deterrent to others.

He also tasked the federal government to deploy new technology in the protection of oil pipelines as other countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, stressing that with new technology like drones the activities of the cartels would be reduced drastically.
He equally advocated for an increase in the percentage of compensation to the host community from 3% to 5%, though he reasoned that the poor percentage should not be a reason for the community to indulge in vandalizing the resources that belong to the entire nation.

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