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Occupational health and safety and labour issues

Health and safety

What health and safety regulations and procedures apply to oil and gas operations (upstream, midstream and downstream)?

The Petroleum Act empowers the minister of petroleum to make regulations for safe working conditions and accident reporting and inquiries. Various regulations made pursuant to the act also establish health and safety provisions for operations in the petroleum sector.

The Mineral Oils (Safety) Regulations contain extensive provisions for handling and utilising equipment (including derricks, hooks for hoisting drill pipes, boilers and oil treaters and fuel storage tanks) in oil and gas operations. The regulations also provide that where there are lacunae in regulations on drilling, production and other operations necessary for the production and handling of crude oil and gas, such activities will conform with good oil field practice, pursuant to the prevailing Institute of Petroleum Safety codes, American Petroleum Institute codes and American Society of Mechanical Engineers codes.

Under the Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations, licensees and lessees must maintain all apparatus and appliances used in their operations, boreholes and wells capable of producing petroleum in good repair and condition. Operations must also be conducted in a proper in accordance with methods and practices acceptable to the Department of Petroleum Resources as good oil field practice.

The Petroleum Refining Regulations provide for the health and safety of persons involved in petroleum refining operations. The regulations govern:

  • the use of safety clothing and appliances;
  • the provision of medical and first aid facilities; and
  • the taking of precautions with dangerous parts of machinery and training of inexperienced workers.

The Petroleum Regulations deal primarily with downstream petroleum operations and prescribe safety standards for the transportation, storage, importation and handling of petroleum products.

The department has developed an offshore safety permit personnel accountability system to monitor health, safety and environment performance and ensure proper accountability of persons working offshore. It requires operators to obtain renewable annual offshore safety permits for all personnel operating in onshore and offshore locations, following the conclusion of basic safety and survival training for such personnel.  

Labour law

Are there any labour law provisions with specific relevance to the oil and gas industry (e.g., with regard to use of native and foreign personnel)?

Labour Act and applicability of common law  Generally, there are two broad categories of employee in Nigeria. Under the Labour Act, ‘workers’ are defined as persons who perform manual or clerical work. Other employees who exercise administrative, executive, technical or professional functions are defined as ‘non-workers’. Workers’ terms of employment are governed by the Labour Act, while non-workers are subject to their respective employment contracts.

The Local Content Act requires an operator’s Nigerian content plan to indicate how Nigerians will be given prior consideration for training and employment opportunities. The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act also prescribes minimum Nigerian content thresholds, expressed as man-hour percentages, which must be deployed on certain projects. Further, operators must have a succession plan for expatriate positions and provide for Nigerians to understudy each expatriate worker with the aim of making the position available to Nigerian nationals. The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act further provides that only Nigerians will be employed in junior and intermediary cadres of employment and that a maximum of 5% of management positions, as may be approved by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, may be retained as expatriate positions to take care of investor interest.

The Petroleum Act requires oil mining lease holders to ensure that, within 10 years from the grant of the lease, the number of Nigerians employed in managerial, professional and supervisory grades is at least 75%, and that Nigerians in any category represent no less than 60% of the workforce. All skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers must be Nigerians.  

The Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations require licensees and lessees to submit a detailed programme for the recruitment and training of Nigerians for minister of petroleum approval.

Under Guidelines 1 of 2015 for the Release of Staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry, every employer must obtain ministerial consent before the release of any Nigerian national from employment, whether as a result of resignation, retirement or otherwise.

What is the state of collective bargaining/organised labour in the oil and gas industry?

In Nigeria, collective bargaining agreements entered into between employers and organised labour form part of each employee’s employment contract and are enforceable by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.  

Under the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, the requirement that an operator’s Nigerian content plan ensures that Nigerian nationals are considered first for training and employment opportunities must also be reflected in any collective bargaining agreements.

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