The Nigerian government has called on its foreign oil partners to rethink plans for major employment layoffs as a result of the falling oil prices and revenues. The plea comes after oil labour unions in the country have threatened strike action if job losses are announced.
Global oil companies have been forced to reduce their workers as development plans have been put on hold or scrapped altogether. Many thousands of oil personnel have already lost their jobs.
Nigeria’s joint-venture upstream operators comprise Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and Eni, which are partners in around 90 per cent of the country’s total production of crude and condensate.
The Nigerian Labour Ministry announced that Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had met with the firms to ask them to shelve any plans for staff rationalization right now.
The move came after Shell, Nigeria’s largest joint venture operator, said it planned to cut some 10,000 staff and contractor positions across its global operations. There was no indication how many of these losses would come from the firm’s Nigerian activities.
A Labour Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying: “It is the government’s position that any job cuts particularly in the strategic oil sector will compound the social security problem the country is currently going through.” Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden, admitted in a recent webcast that the prevailing low oil prices were already affecting the company’s development plans in Nigeria.
Ben van Beurden stated that the company would maintain its strategy in Nigeria, which was to reduce its exposure to the most difficult parts of the petroleum sector.