By Elizabeth Chukwuma
The British petroleum, popular, Shell BP,the British Oil giant, which subsidiary in Nigerian Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, hit the first Commercial Oil export, at Oloibiri, in the present day Bayelsa state, in 1958, appears, to have concluded arrangement aimed at reducing its staff strength in countries where it had established operational baes.
This is in addition to scraping some benefits enjoyed by the senior staff over the years. The Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China may have given the company the advantage to do so. That much was also confirmed by Bernard Loney, the Oil and gas Company , Managing Director, on Monday , June 8, 2020.
Loney had said that the Company’s plans to sack 10,000 of its 70,000 workforce across the world, mostly the office staff. To make do its treat , it was learnt that the Anglo-Dutch oil giant was said to have planned to give some staff their voluntary severance packages as a way of bolstering its finances which had turned negative as the price of a barrel of Brent, which is Nigeria’s major crude oil continues trading at nearly half of what it was at the beginning of the year .
The company, according to insider sources is seeking saving at all costs by significantly scaling back external recruitment and reviewing the contracts of expatriate staff. ‘’ The source disclosed that there could be further redundancies at the second half of the year’’.
Many believe that loney had been appointed as the Shell group Managing Director in order to act out the script of the shareholders’’ by maintaining a leaner and moresilient workforce’’ to enhance their dividend which had dropped since the outbreak of the COVID 19, which had contracted the global economy.
Although, the Shell group is determined to lay off staff in order to save cost, Chris Ngige, a former governor of Anambra state and minister of Labour and Employment, was said to have met the Chief Executive officers, CEOs, of the oil companies operating in Nigeria at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, urging the companies who want to take advantage of the COVID 19 to sack Nigerian workers, to shelve such plans.
Temipre Slyva, a former governor of the oil- rich Bayelsa state and now minister of state , Petroleum Resources, was said to have made a similar, appeal to the multi-national oil producing and Exploration Companies. But that was how far they could go.
Osagie Okunbo, the SPDC, managing Director, in Nigeria, may not likely bow to such pressure not to lay off workers as the matter was beyond him. Loney the Shell group Managing Director, had attributed the company decision to maintain a leaner and more resilient workforce to the COVID 19 pandemic. The leadership of National Union of petroleum and Natural Gas , NUPENG, and petroleum and natural gas Senior Staff Association of Nigria, PENGASSAN, were said to have sent a warning message to multi-national oil companies to prepare for a major crisis in the nation’s oil sector as they would embark on strike if they should go ahead with their threat of laying off workers.
Recall that Loney had said that the pandemic had slashed the demand for oil in the international market, thus causing a drop in price. He noted that the low demand for oil had come about after many companies, which use oil and gas for their operation shut their door , particular, the airlines, which grounded their planes due to the disease.
The Shell group helmsman who may have taken advantage of the pandemic to open up revealed that it takes about $22 billion a year to run the Company profitably . He lamented that since the outbreak of the disease last February, when oil dropped a cliff, causing ‘’oil prices to briefly turn negative’’, the company had not recovered as it could no longer make profit to accommodate the heavy expenses of cash bonuses, pay rises for the senior staff, which they had enjoyed over the years.
Given an insider insight of the company operations since the COVID 19 took hold of the global economy, he disclosed that the British oil giant is spending much more than it makes daily ,’’I am talking of millions of dollar’’, he had said. He may have shocked people when he disclosed that the company ‘’ net debt had increased in the recent time to $6 billion’’ which is not too good for it.
He has given a further pitiable Financial situation of the company when he volunteered another explosive information that’’ it slumped to $4.4 billion net loss in the first quarter of this 2020’’. The Financial losses incurred by the Company may have informed why Bob Dudley, a former Managing Director of the Shell group, stepped down, after 10 years on the saddle to pave waay for loney to come in.
The new Shell BP, boss was said to have set a target for the group :to achieve ‘’ net zero’’ carbon emissions by 2050’’, which Dudley could not do despite all the promises and pressure from various governments.
He may have gladdened the heart of the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, particular, when he confirmed that the company had launched the ‘’new purpose and ambition since February 2020 and will keep to it. An excited Loney ‘’ is confident of the British Petroleum future to stay Competitive in order to realise its ambition’’.
As a prelude to saving costs, the British oil giant was said to have initiated moves that could facilitate cutting down of its operation costs by $2.5 billion in 2021. The Anglo Dutch Company was said to have declared that the cut in expenditure was part of the measures initiated ‘’ to strengthen its balance sheets in response to collapsing oil prices and the economic impact of the COVID 19 pandemic’’. From Russia, Mexico, Nigeria to Glasgow, in the United Kingdom, UK, the story is the same.
There are indications that the French oil giant , Total, Petrobas, Nigerian Oil Company, NAOC, a subsidiary of the Italian oil and gas giant, ENI group, Statoil and the North American oil giants, Chevron and Exon Mobil may follow suit.