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Nigerian Oil Workers Go On Strike, Stop Production At Several Flow Stations

Oil workers in Nigeria have stopped crude production at several flow stations owned by state-run company NNPC as labor unions went on strike on Tuesday to protest unpaid wages, Reuters reports, quoting labor union representatives.

The workers on strike at the Oleh flow station in the Niger Delta demand fair pay and working conditions, and the right to unionize, Cogent Ojobo, a regional chairman at the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), told Reuters.

In early December, NUPENG threatened a three-day nationwide warning strike in January to protest against unresolved labor issues with multinationals operating in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. The union’s warning of the warning strike criticized the local units of ExxonMobil and Chevron for the way they were sacking oil workers and refusing to discuss terms of termination, as well as for refusing to allow workers to unionize.

Last month, ExxonMobil had to shut its Nigerian headquarters after oil workers’ unions barricaded the office to protest the sacking of 150 local staff. Members of the PENGASSAN union besieged Exxon’s office to express disagreement over the way the oil company handed pink slips to workers while negotiations over employment issues were still ongoing. Union activists have said that the strike action was just beginning and would continue into 2017 if the government fails to find a solution to the international oil companies exploiting workers.

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Oil worker strikes is the latest setback in Nigeria’s oil industry, which has seen militant attacks in the Niger Delta cripple its crude production over the past year.

Oil Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said in mid-December that Nigeria was producing around 1.8 million bpd, up from an average 1.63 million bpd in the third quarter of 2016, but still below the 2.2 million bpd which OPEC member Nigeria was pumping before the militant attacks began.

Nigeria is now intent on raising its output, which may further dampen OPEC’s efforts to stick to the 32.5 million bpd ceiling in the cartel’s deal to cut supply, from which Nigeria is exempt.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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