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Labour strike cripples operations of BEDC

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By Elvis Omoregie, Benin

Business activities at the headquarters of BEDC Plc were paralysed on Monday, following the picketing of the premises by members of labour unions, under the umbrellas of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The protesters also sealed off the state office of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), located along Igbesamwan Junction, Akpakpava Road.

The picketing is in compliance with the directive by the national leaderships of the Labour Unions.

The State chairman of NLC, Odion Olaye, who led the pocketing exercise, described it as hugely successful.

He called on consumers of electricity in the state to join the organised labour in this struggle to bring down the prices of electricity.

According to him, “The message to electricity consumers in Edo state that they should join the struggle so that they can bring the down the price of electricity down to the nearest minimum. We are asking them to revert to the former price which is N65 per kilowatt.

“The offices of the BEDC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission will remain locked until we get directive from the national headquarters of the Unions to unlock them.”

Also speaking on the need for the picketing exercise, the state chairman of TUC, Comrade Aighowahi James, described the hike in electricity price as a death penalty to the ordinary workers in the country.

“We are here this morning to picket this DISCO and NERC . The reason is that we want a reversal from N225 to N65 as it was before. The reason is that the hike in tarrif is a death penalty to the workers, it’s a nightmare to the workers, it’s a masquerade to the workers and to the society at large.

“We all know the importance of electricity, once the tariff is increased, it affects every facet of life and for that reason, the national said they should reverse it and to enable them enhance the reversal, that’s the reason for the picketing,” he said.

On his part, the Zonal Organising Secretary, Edo/Delta Zone of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Nash Shuaibu, lamented the negative impact of the hike in price of electricity on its members.

Responding through a statement, the Acting Head of Corporate Communications at BEDC Electricity Plc.in Benin City, Mrs. Evelyn Gbiwen, said the office BEDC acknowledges the picketing action taken by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) at their facilities today.

“The safety and well-being of our employees and customers is our top priority. To ensure everyone’s safety and prevent any damage to critical infrastructure, BEDC has directed its workforce to work remotely today.

“Our customer care lines remain operational, and our dedicated teams are working remotely to provide continued support to our valued customers. We understand the inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience.

“BEDC is actively engaging with all stakeholders to resolve this issue promptly and resume delivering reliable service to our esteemed customers,” she explained.

Energy

Bristow Helicopters mulls collaboration with NCDMB on rescue operations, manpower training

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Bristow Helicopters and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) are exploring a collaboration to develop search and rescue operations in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

The management of Bristow Helicopters made this known when the management team recently visited the NCDMB.

The Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters Nigeria, Mr. Oladapo Oyeleke led the company’s team that met with the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe at the Board’s headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

He said the visit was an opportunity to congratulate the Executive Secretary on his appointment and reaffirm the company’s commitment to NCDMB’s mandate as well as explore areas of possible collaboration. He stated that Bristow Helicopters is the global leader in the provision of helicopter services and has operated in Nigeria for over 65 years.

He acknowledged that the company had found comfort in the Nigerian environment and currently provides services to diverse clientele within and outside the Nigerian oil and gas industry using its fleet of aircrafts.

“We carry 3000 passengers every day. The magnitude of our impact cannot be overemphasised,” he asserted.

The Managing Director maintained that Bristow Helicopters brings innovation to its service, stressing that the development of the Nigerian energy sector relies heavily on the company’s support and services.

“You can only access deepwater projects that are about 200 nautical miles using our services. You cannot get there by boat,” he noted.

In the area of human capacity development, the Managing Director claimed that the company has trained over 300 Nigerian pilots and engineers in partnership with the NCDMB.

According to him, “We have done very well in human capacity development. We trained Nigerian pilots and engineers heading the aviation departments of most international oil companies.”

Speaking further on the company’s local content strides, particularly in human capacity development, Oyeleke stated that the company started appointing Nigerians to the position of chief executives 10 years ago, despite Bristow Helicopters being an international brand. He affirmed that “the company pursues local content without diluting value and safety.”

On possible areas of collaboration with the NCDMB, the Managing Director suggested that Bristow Helicopters and NCDMB could partner in setting up a centre of excellence for effective training of manpower that would work in the aviation subsector of the oil and gas industry. He emphasised that his company brings years of global excellence and always tries to raise the bar.

Another possible area of partnership, according to him, is in the introduction of search and rescue support services in the oil and gas industry. He indicated that Nigeria has a sizable number of vessels operating in the oil and gas industry, yet there is a weak search and rescue support system. He mentioned that Bristow Helicopters is the global leader in the provision of such services and planned to bring that expertise to the Nigerian market.

The third possible area of collaboration for both organisations is the planned investment in light-wing aircrafts for the Nigerian industry.

According to Oyeleke, “The aircrafts will come in the 4th Quarter of 2024 if the market takes us there. We plan to train Nigerians to become the pioneers of that fleet and they can become the ambassadors.”

The Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe in his comments, lauded Bristow Helicopters for their professionalism and offering excellent services to the oil and gas industry over the past six decades. He expressed interest in the opportunities presented by the new light-wing aircrafts and confirmed that the Board would seek to train young Nigerians to acquire capabilities required to operate the aircrafts.

Ogbe also pledged the Board’s support for Bristow Helicopters’ plan to introduce search and rescue services in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Such services would be challenging and expensive to deploy, but would ultimately add great value to the industry, he concluded.

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Energy

Tinubu assures oil companies of conducive business environment

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President Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday in Abuja, said the three Executive Orders on oil and gas reforms, which he signed, will ensure that no oil company faces undue challenges in the country.

The President made the affirmation during a meeting with a delegation from ExxonMobil Upstream Company, led by its President, Liam Mallon.

He emphasised that these reforms will make Nigeria’s petroleum sector globally competitive.

The three Executive Orders, which became effective from February 28, 2024, are: Oil and Gas Companies (Tax Incentives, Exemption, Remission, etc.) Order, 2024; Presidential Directive on Local Content Compliance Requirements, 2024; and the Presidential Directive on Reduction of Petroleum Sector Contracting Costs and Timelines.

President Tinubu also assured the ExxonMobil delegation that the federal government is committed to resolving the divestment issues between the company and Seplat Energy, which are currently under litigation.

“We have been pushing for closure on divestment issues, and I believe the other party, Seplat, is open to this,” the President said.

The President commended the company for its show of commitment to environmental protection in Nigeria, noting its efforts in reducing gas flaring in the country.

“Nigeria is going through a lot of reforms, and we have been navigating the leadership quarters carefully to ensure that we achieve a win-win situation for all parties and attract more investments,” President Tinubu said.

The President described ExxonMobil as a worthy partner in Nigeria’s development over the decades and urged the company to remain committed to contributing to the success of his administration.

“We are close enough to be fair and blunt with you, and we are not afraid to hear from you on better options and recommendations for the growth of the industry in Nigeria,” the President said.

The meeting, also attended by Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), and Ekperikpe Ekpo, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), discussed issues such as divestment, decommissioning, and abandonment as regards the company.

“Mr. President has given a clear directive to the NNPC GCEO and I to resolve the issue of divestment, and we are doing whatever we can to achieve that,” Lokpobiri stated.

On decommissioning and abandonment in the oil industry, Lokpobiri noted that the ministry is addressing the matter in line with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and global best practices.

“The reforms driven by the three Executive Orders will ensure that companies operating in Nigeria have the best environment to continue making their investments and that no company will seek to leave Nigeria,” the Minister said.

The President of ExxonMobil Upstream Company, Liam Mallon, expressed his appreciation for the support and reassurances provided by the Nigerian government and pledged the company’s long-term commitment to the country’s energy sector.

He also commended President Tinubu for his courage and conviction to undertake bold reforms within his first year in office.

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Energy

MEMAN, FRSC, NMDPRA unite to tackle truck accidents in Nigeria

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By Abdulsalam Abdullah

The Major Oil Marketers Association, (MEMAN), Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRSC) and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, (NMDPRA) have convened to address the recent surge in truck accidents in 2024.

The meeting was aimed to find solutions to this pressing issue and improve road safety in the country.

In attendance was the Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN).

The meeting, which was aimed to address the alarming rise in truck accidents this year, yielded several key takeaways to improve truck safety on the roads.

MEMAN, in collaboration with FRSC and NMDPRA, has committed to implementing various measures to enhance truck safety.

These include mandatory annual training for drivers and biannual truck integrity evaluations at FRSC-approved centers, phasing out old trucks in favor of new ones with advanced safety features, and ensuring no trucks older than 15 years transport dangerous goods.

Additionally, the group planned to leverage technology by implementing on-board computers, tracking devices, and intelligent cameras to monitor and enhance road safety, with control centers established for 24/7 truck monitoring.

They will also identify and address critical road infrastructure issues, emphasise the importance of truck maintenance, and advocate for the reduction of truck sizes.

NMDPRA will update truck specifications, monitor compliance, and approve new safety technologies, while FRSC will enforce strict Safe-To-Load (STL) inspections and driver’s qualifications.

Regular campaigns will be conducted to promote safe driving culture and enhance driver welfare to protect both assets and lives.

Through this collaborative effort, MEMAN, FRSC, and NMDPRA are paving the way for safer roads and better transportation practices in Nigeria.

The commitment is a significant step towards reducing the number of accidents and ensuring the safety of lives and assets.

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