Stakeholders raise concern over future of jobs in oil sector
• NLC rejects privatization of refineries
President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders yesterday raised concern over the future of jobs in the oil and gas sector in the face of adoption of more technologies and challenges facing the industry.
As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, the oil and gas sector lost nearly 51,000 drilling and refining jobs globally in March 2020. Locally, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) decried high personnel cost in defence of the need to reduce the cost of crude oil production.
As the challenges push oil companies to cut the cost to remain in operation, technologies such as drones, augmented reality (AR), blockchain, and virtual reality (VR), amongst others, are also projected to put pressure on jobs in the sector.
At the sixth triennial national delegates conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) held in Abuja, Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stressed the need to transform the oil sector to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the industry.
The president noted that as the country takes steps to tackle the challenges, associations such as PENGASSAN would be significant partners because the task requires experts.
Buhari, who also stressed the need to overhaul strategies and create solutions through the non-oil sector, said his administration would tackle the challenges facing the nation’s refineries and work on survival measures to keep the economy.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, who decried the high cost of oil production in the country and the high personnel share of the cost, insisted that there was a need for a paradigm shift.
According to Kyari, human resources cost takes as much as 46 per cent in the sector, “a development which indicates that the structure may be wrong or abused.”
On the emerging technologies, Kyari said: “We’ve seen the amazing benefits technology can bring in terms of efficiency and cost-saving. We’ve seen significant improvements in productivity due to our adoption of technology as the COVID-19 way of work.”
The GMD, who noted that mass sack was avoided in the oil sector despite the challenges of the pandemic, stated that the NNPC group would continue to take advantage of technology to improve efficiency.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, kicked against privatisation of the nation’s assets, especially the refineries, stressing that the development would concentrate national resources in the hand of a few politically exposed individuals.
He said the labour unions would be willing to buy the assets should the government attempt to sell them, so that the masses could benefit, instead of being taken over by friends of politicians.
Wabba said: “You should not concentrate wealth in the hands of a few individuals. That is why labour will continue to reject the concept of privatisation because it puts our common wealth in the hand of a few people.
“If they want to sell the refineries, I am sure the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and PENGASSAN will be ready to buy them for the service of the entire country.”
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