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Nigeria's Oil Unions Start Strike They Say Will Curb Exports

Monday, 15 Dec 2014 06:19 AM

Nigeria's two oil unions began an indefinite strike that they say will curb exports from the West African nation responsible for pumping more than a quarter of the continent's crude.

"You will soon begin to see shutdowns of our oil flow," Emmanuel Ojugbana, a spokesman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, said by phone today from Warri, a southern oil hub. "If the strike is allowed for another few days, I can assure you that there will be complete shutdown because this is an indefinite strike."

Ohi Alegbe, an Abuja-based spokesman for both the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and also for the country's Oil Ministry, didn't immediately respond to two calls or a text message seeking comment.

Any reduction in pumping would coincide with a collapse in the price of Nigeria's biggest source of revenue. Brent crude oil plunged 43 percent this year. It rose as much as 2.3 percent to $63.25 a barrel in London today. Nigeria needs about twice that to balance its budget, according to estimates in October from Deutsche Bank AG.

The action involves both Pengassan, as the managerial union is known, and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, or Nupeng, its affiliate for manual workers. Nigeria's crude oil output declined 3.2 percent to 2.18 million barrels a day when they last went on strike in September, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Nigeria pumped 2.3 million barrels of crude oil a day last year, 26 percent of Africa's total output, according to BP Plc estimates.

The action is to protest government failure to fix refineries, cut gasoline prices in line with the slump in crude, and also to press for the passage of a new oil law, according to an e-mailed statement from Pengassan.

Workers at oil fields and those operating flow stations that pump crude to export terminals are joining the strike, meaning a protracted action could disrupt exports, Ojugbana said. Domestic gasoline supplies may also be curtailed, according to the statement.

The two unions want the authorities to expedite passage of the petroleum industry bill, curtail crude theft and pipeline sabotage, and address what they say are unfair labor practices by some energy producers, according to the statement.

The West African nation relies on crude for about 70 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of foreign exchange income.

"The strike will not be suspended until there is strong commitment from the government and affected operators to resolve the issues," Ojugbana said.

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Nigeria's two oil unions began an indefinite strike that they say will curb exports from the West African nation responsible for pumping more than a quarter of the continent's crude.
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Monday, 15 Dec 2014 06:19 AM
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