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Reps Summon Petroleum Minister Over Workers Strike, Oil Field Sale
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been summoned along with the Goup Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Joseph Thlama Dawah, and the leaderships of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, NUPENG, to appear before the House of Representatives joint committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Petroleum (Downstream) and Gas Resources, to explain reasons for the industrial action by oil workers.
In a separate summon, Alison – Madueke is also to appear before the joint committee to defend herself against accusations of favoring one of the companies that bided for a Nigerian oil field.
In the first summon, the parties were invited to examine the reason(s) for the Industrial action embarked upon by PENGASSAN and NUPENG, with a view to finding a solution and preventing what may be a major crisis for citizens if the strike action is not immediately called off.
It was gathered that the strike action which commenced on Tuesday resulted from a disagreement with the NNPC management over funding of an in-house pension fund operated by the oil giant..
As at December 31, 2012, the deficit in the pension scheme stood at N133.56 billion.
The minister will also have to clear her name of the accusation that she is illegally backing an energy trading company, Taleveras Group in a bid to buy Oil Mining Licence 29, the largest of four Nigerian oil fields Royal Dutch Shell has put up for sale.
Taleveras and Aiteo, both Nigerian energy trading firms, had made the highest bid of $2.85 billion for OML 29, but the chairman, House Committee on Internal Security, Aliyu Ibrahim Gebi, told his colleagues that the petroleum minister gave “preferential treatment” to Taleveras.
Gebi, who is also a member of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) said there is clearly a relationship between the minister and Taleveras.
“We cannot have an oil sector owned by the government where there is no transparency and accountability, deals are done in a very dubious manner. There is no reason why one company should be preferred above others, even if they are competent, even if they are as financial stable or more competent,” he said.
The lawmaker insisted that there was no reason why Taleveras should be getting preferential treatment especially on the issue of OML 29, but that “some people behind the scene” were making sure against all odds that Taleveras gets the allocation.
In July, federal lawmakers reported that the OML 29 has been in the custody of Shell for more than 52 years and one-half of the area of lease has not been relinquished to the federal government after 10 years as stipulated by Item 12(1) of the First Schedule of the Petroleum Act.
The contentious OML 29 is currently under investigation by a seven-man Adhoc House of Representatives Committee.