…seeks to protect indigenous participation
By Udeme Akpan
FEAR has gripped 14 indigenous oil and gas companies as the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has started to probe Energia Limited, one of the leading indigenous companies over labour, operational, managerial and other issues.
Investigations by Vanguard showed that the DPR, which has the mandate to issue licences, approvals, permits, and regulations as well as monitor compliance in the industry, decided to intervene in the case of Energia following a petition received from 11 former personnel of the company.
The personnel were fired, barely three months after its former Managing Director/CEO; Mr. Felix Amieyeofori was made to resign or retire in March, 2018, indicating that all is not well with the company.
The company that has either suspended or rescheduled some capital projects, apparently as a result of its inability to fund them, it was gathered presented redundancy as the main reason for sacking the workers.
But the affected workers, who collectively took their case to DPR, alleged many factors, including undue interference of the board of directors, favouritism, operational, managerial and other issues as factors contributing to the relatively poor situation of Energia Limited.
Consequently, the DPR that has powers to sanction has directed Energia to respond to the various allegations made by the former workers.
Spokesman of DPR, Mr. Paul Osu, indicated in an email to Vanguard that: “A petition was received from some staff of Energia regarding their disengagement from the services of the company on claims of redundancy.
“In line with our statutory regulatory oversight of the oil and gas sector, DPR has requested Energia to respond to allegations by the petitioners within two weeks of receipt.”
However, the response of the company to DPR remains unknown as Energia declined to comment on the issues, despite its awareness of the provisions of the nation’s Freedom Information Act.
Specifically, in an email to Vanguard, the company stated: “Unfortunately, we would not be able to grant an interview session on those topics at this time.”
However, investigations by Vanguard showed that before now, many indigenous companies that do not have unions to fight for workers were very comfortable.
But with the latest case, they were said to be scared, especially as DPR is resolute to watch closely developments in the companies, targeted at ensuring that the indigenous operators, including Oriental, Midwestern, Walter Smith, Niger Delta Petroleum, Green Energy/Lekoil, Network E&P, Platform, Pillar Oil, Prime Energy, Excel E&P, Frontier Oil, Suntrust, Oando and Energia Limited comply with set standards and guidelines.
Consequently, this is expected to enable the government achieve set objectives, especially increased indigenous participation, local content and capacity building in the industry, previously dominated by International Oil Companies, IOCs.
The marginal fields were previously owned by the IOCs but left undeveloped before the Federal Government took over and placed them at the bosom of indigenous companies for development in the spirit of local content.
Specifically, they include Ebok, Umasadege and Ibigwe, currently producing 22,000 barrels, 12,000 barrels and 6,259 barrels per day, bpd, and operated by Oriental, Midwestern and Walter Smith respectively.
The fields include Ogele, Otakikpo, Qua Iboe and Ebendo, currently yielding 6,500 barrels, 6,000 barrels, 2,143 barrels and 2,100 bpd, belonging to Niger Delta Petroleum, Green Energy/Lekoil, Network E&P and Energia Limited, respectively.
They include Egbeoma, Umutesi, Assaramatoru and Eremor fields, currently producing 2,006 barrels, 1,500 barrels, 1,200 barrels and 700 bpd, owned by Platform, Pillar Oil, Prime Energy and Excel E&P respectively.
Other fields are Uquo, Umusadege and another, currently producing 520 barrels, 3,600 barrels and 15,000 bpd, owned by Frontier Oil, Suntrust and Oando, respectively.