The federal government has directed oil and gas companies to reduce the workforce on their offshore platforms in view of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Director, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Sarki Auwalu, said in a circular in Abuja that only staff on essential duties should be nominated and permitted to travel to offshore and other remote locations.
The circular was issued just as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the DPR at the weekend disagreed over the country's total stock of petrol, as fears continue to grow over the sustainability of the current nationwide supply of the product.
"All travels to and from offshore/remote locations shall strictly be in line with the guidelines and procedure for travel to offshore/swamp location and obtainment of offshore safety Permit 2019," it stated, adding: "Non-essential staff currently at offshore/remote locations should be withdrawn with immediate effect."
It directed that staff rotation less than 28 days had been temporarily suspended, implying that staff were required to stay a minimum of 28 days at the locations per rotation.
It said sections 4.3 and 4.4 of the relevant guidelines would continue to apply
"Representation by government agencies at offshore/remote locations shall be limited to a maximum of one person per rotation. You are to ensure strict compliance with the above while we continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as required," it said.
Meanwhile, NNPC and DPR at the weekend disagreed over the country's total stock of petrol.
While the latest update from DPR showed that Nigeria has only a supply that would last for 24 days from all its 54 depots, NNPC through its Group Managing Director, Malam Mele Kyari, said the stock would last over 60 days.
DPR put the cumulative combined depot stock of petrol from the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, as well as major and independent marketers at 935,570,757 litres.
"Applying the estimated daily national demand of 38,200,000 litres, available depot PMS stock of 935,570,757 litres is sufficient for 24 days" the regulatory agency said.
The depots are spread across Lagos, Eket/Calabar, Kaduna, Warri, Umuahia and Port Harcourt, with Lagos having the largest share of the facilities.
However, Kyari urged Nigerians not to engage in panic buying of the product as the country has adequate stock, adding that NNPC has the support of all stakeholders to ensure an adequate supply of petroleum products.
On the apprehension caused by the threat by the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to petrol tankers drivers to vacate the depots, Kyari said the corporation would continue to engage them.
NARTO had asked its employees (tanker drivers) to stop loading petroleum products at the depots from last Friday to save them from exposure to the pandemic.
Kyari said: "There is absolutely no scarcity anywhere; our supply is robust, we have fuel that will last this country even for 60 days assuming we do not import any.
"Of course, people because of the pandemic, stay at home, may try to conserve fuel; there is no need to do this. Maintain your normal life, we have secured all assurances that trucks will be moving freely across the country throughout this period of difficulty and supply will be sustained.
"Our stock and supply plans are robust and there is no need to buy more than you require at any time. We will keep you supplied."
He explained that states had all consented to allow movements of fuel trucks and operation of stations during any sit-at-home action, adding that there is no need to buy more fuel than required.
Kyari, who, however, did not say whether the corporation has reached an agreement with NARTO, added: "Trucks will move, fuel stations will sell and products will be available. We will meet your petroleum products needs during this period and at all times."