Following the proposed plan by major oil markerters to embark on mass sack of workers, the Federal Government declared late last night that it has scheduled a crucial joint labour-oil sector meeting for next week to resolve some emerging issues in the industry.
The major oil marketers had allegedly threatened to lay off workers due to the dwindling price of crude in the international market.
But the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, after a meeting with major oil companies in Nigeria, called on operators in the sector to shelve such plans so as to avoid throwing the nation into a huge social upheaval.
The minister emphasised that the nation was already facing a lot of social security problems and could not to afford more problems through job cuts; assuring that the scheduled meeting will look at all the issue.
“The oil majors in Nigeria must therefore bend backwards and see what they can plough back from their profits to keep Nigerian workers on their duty posts,”the minister said.
Speaking further, Ngige assured the oil majors that the current economic downturn would not last forever.
According to him, “keep the existing jobs. We have a downturn today but you can be sure it will not last forever. If you are not creating new jobs, let us keep the ones we have. That is what this government is pleading and we must emphasise that is what we want.”
He said because oil and gas sector remained the financial backbone of the country’s economy for now, any threat of industrial unrest therein should be nipped in the bud.
Speaking on behalf of the International Oil Compananies (IOCs) at the meeting, which included Agip, Mobil producing, Chevron Addax and Total, the Director of Human Resources and Medical, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Ihuoma Onyearughe, appealed for understanding and collaboration on the part of the government in view of the current challenges facing the industry.
“The issue of laying people off is not a decision that comes lightly. I will not come here to tell you that people are being laid off or not. The situation in the oil company is dire. We want to ask for more understanding in appreciation of the challenges we face.
“Nevertheless, we have heard the minister and we will take your message back to our various companies,” she said.
She also pleaded with the minister to protect the oil majors from unnecessary harassment from the labour unions “who usually close their eyes to unfair labour practices by the ‘employment contractors’ who do not remit workers pension and compensation funds, but harass and turn the heat on the oil companies.”
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell said it will be laying off 10,000 workers.
This development is connected to significant loss recorded by the company in 2015.
The company, which has disclosed that it made $1.8 billion in profits, compared with $4.2 billion for the same quarter a year ago, said the sack was in line with the company’s further “impactful” decision.
Shell said its 2015 Current Cost of Supplies (CCS) earnings stood at $3.8 billion compared with $19.0 billion in 2014, adding that its fourth quarter 2015 current cost of supplies earnings also stood at $1.8 billion compared with $3.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2014, representing a decrease of 44 per cent.
The company revealed in its 2015 financial statement that its full year 2015 CCs earnings stood at $10.7 billion compared with $22.6 billion in 2014, while the fourth quarter 2015 dividend, as the company is expected to announce a dividend of $0.47 per ordinary share and $0.94 per ADS in respect of the first quarter in 2016.
The company’s CEO, Ben van Beurden, responding to recent financial results, the company was “making substantial changes in the company, reorganising our Upstream, and reducing costs and capital investment, as we refocus Shell, and respond to lower oil prices,” adding that “as we have previously indicated, this will include a reduction of some 10,000 staff and direct contractor positions in 2015-16 across both companies.”
The CEO added that: “in 2015, we significantly curtailed spending by reducing the number of new investment decisions and designing lower-cost development solutions.
“For 2016, we have exited the Bab sour gas project in Abu Dhabi, and are postponing final investment decisions on LNG Canada and Bonga South West in deep water Nigeria.
“Operating costs and capital investment have been reduced by a total of $12.5 billion as compared to 2014, and we expect further reductions in 2016.
“As a result of our actions in 2015, we have retained a strong balance sheet position, with 14 per cent gearing. Shell will take further impactful decisions to manage through the oil price downturn, should conditions warrant that. Shell’s dividends for 2015 were $1.88 per share, and are expected to be at least $1.88 per share in 2016, as previously announced.”
It will be recalled that on February 1, 2016, the company announced that it had agreed to sell 51 per cent of its shareholding in Shell Refining Company in Malaysia to Malaysia Hengyuan International Ltd $66.3 million.
The sale, according to the company, was consistent with Shell’s strategy to concentrate its global Downstream footprint and businesses where it can be most competitive.