The internal crisis in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) over inadequate funding by the federal government and lapses in the recent recruitment exercise is threatening the exports of crude oil as some senior officials of the organisation manning export terminals have concluded arrangements to shut down the facilities next week, THISDAY has gathered.
This development, it was learnt, followed the concern raised by the workers that the capacity of the organisation to effectively regulate the oil and gas industry was being weakened by inadequate tools to carry out its statutory functions.
THISDAY gathered from sources close to the top management of the organisation that its current revenue generating capacity of N1.3trillion yearly is N2.7trillion below its projected capacity due to under-funding.
DPR’s Deputy Director in charge of Public Affairs, Mrs. Belema Osibodu, could not be reached as she was said to be attending the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas, United States, along with other top management.
However, the branch Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), Mr. Amba Ndoma-Egba, confirmed the planned action to THISDAY yesterday, stressing that he was in Port Harcourt to sensitise the DPR branch offices on the matter.
He stated that the workers gave the management 21-day ultimatum to get proper funding from the federal government.
“We have visited Warri, Kaduna, Abuja and we are now in Port Harcourt. We are here to sensitise the workers on the action next week. All approval processes for oil well completion will not be approved. We will ground crude oil export. DPR is one of the highest revenue-generating agencies but it does not keep a kobo as overhead. They recruited staff recently but on the following day, they withdrew their letters and promoted them to level 09 and said that it was management discretion but we will not accept that,” he said.
It was also learnt that the planned action will disrupt the current smooth supply and distribution of petroleum products as both the junior and senior workers have also threatened to sabotage approval of import permits to marketers unless the federal government addresses the issue of inadequate funding of the regulatory agency.
The workers are also said to be aggrieved over the sudden promotion of all the newly-recruited staff from Grade Level 08 to Grade Level 09, a day after they resumed duties.
THISDAY gathered from sources within the organisation that all the workers monitoring crude oil exports, jetties as well as the quality and quantity of imported petroleum products have been briefed on the planned action.
The workers are said to be concerned that each time there is oil spill by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) the DPR relies on the same IOCs it is supposed to investigate for the provision of helicopters and other logistics for the inspection of the sites.
This, they said, had weakened the capacity of the organisation to regulate the industry operators.
“Among the entire sister organisations – DPR, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), and Petroleum Equalisation (PEF), the DPR is the only agency that does not keep part of the revenue it generates for overhead. We are made to look inferior to the staff of the IOCs because we are not equipped to carry out our functions. Even procuring reagents for petroleum product quality check and assessment is very difficult. The situation is very uncomfortable. There were also irregularities in recent promotion of trainee staff,” said a senior staff of the organisation.
He disclosed that the DPR generates N1.3trillion yearly but is allocated only N600million as overhead for its 23 offices nationwide.