- Title: NIGERIA: Nigeria oil union to return to work during talks
- Date: 1st May 2008
- Summary: (W3) LAGOS, NIGERIA (FILE) (REUTERS) AERIAL SHOT OF LAGOS BUSINESS DISTRICT VARIOUS OF YELLOW COMMERCIAL BUSES AT BUS STOP BUSES ON THE ROAD
- Embargoed: 16th May 2008 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Industry,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVA6LT9FEKYOPFQ1S9K5XC7J7Y3L
- Story Text: Striking oil workers who have shut down Exxon Mobil's production in Nigeria agree in principle to return to work while negotiations with the company continue.
Striking oil workers who have shut down Exxon Mobil's production in Nigeria have agreed in principle to return to work while negotiations with the company continue, mediators said on Wednesday (April 30).
A spokesman for the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC), which is brokering the talks, said the leaders of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) had committed to suspending its seven-day-old strike while discussions went ahead.
Talks restarted in the Nigeria capital Abuja on Wednesday (April 30) but an Exxon Mobil executive, who asked not to be identified, said workers had not yet returned and, with Thursday (May 1) a national holiday, work could not resume before Friday at the earliest.
Union leaders told Reuters on Wednesday they would seek the approval of their membership to return to work during the negotiations, although PENGASSAN President Peter Esele had said late on Tuesday that the strike action would continue. He blamed Exxon Mobil for allowing the strike to proceed.
"I think in the last couple of years people are beginning to take for granted when we say we are going on strike, because we always think for the country and we said ok no, we give enough room for dialogue and all of sudden everybody is used to it and now being taken for granted. And now we simply, the guys just said no. They are going to shut down production. And these are the kind of strikes that we are in now not the kind you see on the street. That you see there are long queues. No. This is really the strike that hurts, because at the moment there's no production in Exxon Mobil," said Esele.
The dispute has shut down virtually all Exxon's 800,000 barrels per day of production, forcing the U.S. oil major on Monday (April 28) to declare force majeure on Nigerian shipments, meaning it could not fulfil contractual obligations to clients.
The strike and attacks by Niger Delta rebels have slashed production in the world's eighth-largest oil exporter by more than half, helping drive prices to a record high around 120 U.S. dollars a barrel on Monday. Oil has since fallen back to 115 U.S. dollars a barrel.
Analysts said an upsurge in militant attacks appeared to be linked to an acrimonious re-run of the gubernatorial elections in oil-rich Bayelsa state and the trial of rebel leader Henry Okah, due to resume on May 2.
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