The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), has issued a warning that it is set to shut down crude oil production in Nigeria by Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), a subsidiary of the United States super oil major, Chevron Corporation.

The threat followed the demand for the payment of workers entitlements. Last Wednesday, during a protest demonstration, the workers blocked the company’s head office in Lagos, preventing visitors or workers from entry into the premises. It was gathered that only management staff were allowed to enter the building “to enable them hold meeting and make the payments.”

Chevron Nigeria produces over 350,000 barrels of crude oil per day from around 30 oilfields. The company has interests, ranging from 20 to 100%, in three operated and six non-operated deepwater blocks in Nigeria. It is also involved in natural gas projects in the western Niger Delta and Escravos areas, including the Escravos Gas Plant (EGP), the Escravos Gas-to-Liquids (EGTL) facility and the Sonam Field Development Project

“In the coming days, production may be shut down if management does not act fast,” a member of the protesting PENGASSAN workers stated. Speaking on what led to the crisis, the source said “the workers are demanding for their yearly entitlements. We the workers are entitled to certain allowances in every December and January but the management has refused to pay.”

PENGASSAN is also threatening to shut down the company’s oil production facilities in Escravos and other parts of the Western Niger Delta. Since Wednesday, only skeletal activities were ongoing at the major production units as the union allowed only two workers to man each unit, against the normal five to 10 workers.

Chevron has refused to issue a statement on the development leaving newsmen to speculations on the next line of action by the company. Junior oil workers under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), had earlier this year threatened to ground operations of the company into a total halt through industrial action.

NUPENG had issued a seven-day ultimatum for the company to recall the 500 staff, it sacked, including members of its executives affected by the exercise. Chevron was accused of planning to sack more than 70% of its labour manpower, under the guise that its operations in Nigeria had reduced.

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