We have been informed by a very senior expatriate employee of Shell(name withheld)that the current decission to reduce the workforce of the Anglo-Dutch petroleum giant in Nigeria is mainly aimed at pressurizing the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria into acceding to some demands made by Shell in recent times.
The expatriate employee told one of our female reporters at snake island in Lagos that for sometime now, Shell have been pressurising the Presidency to extend the deadline for the stoppage of gas flaring by atleast three years,which the Presidency appears not to be well disposed to. The Shell Petroleum Development company of Nigeria limited(SPDC) is a major oil exploration and drilling contractor to the Nigerian Government. The company also have substantial equity holding in the Nigerian liquified natural gas company(LNG). Gas flaring, according to experts reduces drilling costs.
We also gathered that another area the petroleum drilling giant have been finding things difficult with the Nigerian Authorities is in the resumption of work in Ogoniland. Shell according to our source, thinks that dialogue has failed and that full military actions should be applied, again the Presidency so far have not bought this line of reasoning. Shell left Ogoniland, an oil rich community in the Niger Delta region in the middle of the Ogoni agitations for autonomy and resource control.
We were further told that SPDC Nigeria at a meeting with its parent company in London in the middle of last year, agreed that since the stoppage of gas flaring with its attendant increase in drilling costs and non resumption of work in Ogoniland will put enormous pressure on the company's finances,the best way to pressurise the Government to have a second look at the issues previously raised is to announce a proposal for reduction of the workforce which will throw more Nigerians into the unemployment market, with its associated socio-economic problems. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is presently high, successive Governments have been battling with this problem.
Shell, which started oil exploration and drilling in Nigeria in the 1950s, is also the operator of the SHELL-NNPC JOINT VENTURE PARTNERSHIP and have ever since been the most prominent company in that sector. It has in recent times branched into liquified natural gas.
Since Shell announced the proposal to downsize its workforce, The Nigerian Presidency have been having meetings both secret and open with top management of the company on how to completely abandon the plan or find a way arround it. We can now reveal that Shell's position has been that the issues of resumption of work in Ogoniland and extention of deadline for stoppage of gas flaring should be revisited.
We are still awaiting reply of an enquiry sent to Shell for comments by e-mail.