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Dow Jones Newswires: Nigerian Oil Unions Begin Three-Day Strike -Union

13 September 2006

LAGOS -(Dow Jones)- Nigeria’s two oil unions Wednesday began a three-day warning strike over the lack of security in the Niger Delta, a union leader said.

“The strike has begun and there is nothing the government can do to stop it,” President of blue-collar National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, or Nupeng, Peter Akpatason, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Members of the two unions are complying with directive from their leaders to stay away from work, oil company and government officials told Dow Jones Newswires.

The unions are aiming to shut down of Nigeria’s crude oil production and export facilities, Akpatason said.

“We have given instructions to our people to shut down their facilities,” he said.
Akpatason said the unions would be meeting the government Wednesday as part of moves to resolve the conflict.

At Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, the Nigerian unit of ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), a source confirmed that the strike had begun, with Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, or Pengassan, members absent from work.

Also, at Chevron Nigeria, a unit of Chevron Corp. (CVX), a spokesman said union members stayed away from work.

“They are not at work because they are complying with the unions’ directives,” Femi Odumabo told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

The Mobil source couldn’t confirm whether the strike has led to a shutdown of export and production facilities, but said that “without Pengassan members in some places, it may not be possible to export crude.”
 
The non-Pengassan staff who are showing up to work are senior management employees, who aren’t union members of the unions.

At the Department of Petroleum Resources, regulator of the oil and gas industry, a member of Pengassan, who spoke to Dow Jones Newswires on a mobile phone, said he was at home in compliance with the directive.

“Pengassan and Nupeng are not working today,” he said. He said union members had stayed away from all their workplaces, including the export loading terminals.

While he admitted that the workers’ action could disrupt operations at the terminals, he added that the management of the department had taken steps to prevent this.
“DPR management has deployed non-unionized staff to sensitive facilities to ensure that operations go on,” he said.

DPR staff are part of the teams that monitor and record crude oil loading at the terminals. They are also the ones that hold the keys to the loading terminals.

Odumabo wouldn’t say, however, whether the strike had disrupted Chevron’s operations, but said the union members had stayed away from “all” Chevron’s sites in Nigeria – Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, and Escravos – where its crude loading terminal is located.

Nupeng and Pengassan say the strike is in protest against the lack of security in the Niger Delta, where scores of oil workers have been kidnapped and two killed this year by militants in the region.

Attacks by militants and pipeline leaks have cut Nigeria’s crude oil production by about 872,000 barrels a day, Nigeria’s Oil Minister Edmund Daukoru said earlier this week. Oil production in 2006 is forecast at 2.5 million b/d.

-By Vincent Nwanma, Dow Jones Newswires; +234-802-358-4996; [email protected]

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