Total resumes oil and gas production in Nigeria

8th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

LAGOS, July 8 (AFP) - French group Total will resume oil and gas production in Nigeria after a six-day stoppage sparked by a dispute with workers, a spokesman for the company's Nigerian subsidiary said Thursday.

LAGOS, July 8 (AFP) - French group Total will resume oil and gas production in Nigeria after a six-day stoppage sparked by a dispute with workers, a spokesman for the company's Nigerian subsidiary said Thursday.  

"We hope to restart production very soon, hopefully today. We struck a deal with the workers last night and all is now well," spokesman Fred Ohahwa told AFP, refusing to disclose details of the deal.  

But a spokeswoman at Total's Paris headquarters told AFP that output in Nigeria had already resumed and that the company expected to be back up to full capacity of 215,000 barrels per day by the weekend.  

"Production of oil and gas resumed fairly quickly overnight. Oil production has again reached 210,000 barrels per day. We aren't yet back to full capacity but will doubtless be at the weekend," the spokeswoman said.  

The Nigerian subsidiary of TotalFinaElf shut down oil and gas production in the west African country on Friday, as workers downed tools to demand better pay and conditions.  

Total is the fifth largest producer of oil in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil exporter and the world's sixth largest, with output of 2.5 million barrels per day.  

Production in the country is often disrupted by workers' disputes and violence in the oil-producing south.  

Last week, as Total shut down production, the Nigerian branch of US oil major ExxonMobil - the second biggest oil group in Nigeria - warned that its workers were threatening to go on strike to press for better pay and benefits.  

On Monday, two main oil workers' unions threatened to call their members out on strike if the government failed to pull back from plans to sell off Nigeria's four grossly under-performing oil refineries.  

Despite being Africa's biggest oil producer, low refining capacity means Nigeria has to import much of its fuel. Deregulation of the fuel market has led to price rises at the pump - and strikes across the country, where cheap fuel is regarded as a birth right.  

Early this week, oil prices soared to the highest levels for a month on the international market as supply fears were exacerbated by reports of another possible strike by oil workers in Nigeria, traders in London said.  

To appease the situation, on Thursday, ExxonMobil recalled the head of its Nigerian operation, Mike Fry, to pave way for a peaceful resolution to its dispute with local staff.  

"Our MD (managing director) has been recalled to the headquarters in the United States as part of a move to resolve the crisis," a spokesman for Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) Unlimited told AFP, adding that the decision to recall Fry was not "an indictment" of him.  

John Chaplin has been named to replace Fry, the spokesman said.   And talks got under way Wednesday between the Nigerian government and leaders of the two main oil workers unions - NUPENG and PENGASSAN - to ward off what could be crippling strike, billed to start in 21 days if the government failed to stop its planned sale of the refineries.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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