Photo: Heera field; Source: Newkem

Around 80 workers at ONGC offshore platform positive for Covid

The coronavirus pandemic that has been ravaging India has spread offshore with some 80 workers at Oil & Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) Heera field operations in the Mumbai High offshore area testing positive in recent days.

According to Moneycontrol, a media outlet from Mumbai, production from Heera is unaffected and ONGC continues to produce 50,000 barrels per day from the platform.

About 75-80 people, out of the total 230 or around 35 per cent of the workforce, have been infected by COVID-19 at Heera, one of ONGC’s largest producing platforms. Out of this, 28 are ONGC employees while the rest are contract workers.

A source, who is working offshore, told Moneycontrol that only two rigs out of the six in the area are currently operational.

In a rig called Sagar Uday, almost 60-70 people were tested positive, and the rig got blacked out. Similarly, work was stopped in Sagar Ratna, Sagar Kiran, and Sagar Shakthi, too”, the source said.

Regarding the stoppage of operations in rigs, the source added that it may not affect production as most of them are used for exploratory purposes.

The company has maintained a strict standard operating procedure ever since the pandemic broke out. Any person, whether employee or contract worker must go through a mandatory five-day quarantine and also an RT-PCR test before being shifted offshore. Those affected and those who came in close contact with them are transported immediately to the base via helicopter.

ONGC also posted a team of doctors on all its platforms which are checking temperature and other health parameters of the employees on a routine basis.

The source added that, although Heera production is not affected by Covid-19, one of the platforms there is shut down due to planned maintenance.

Heera platform and the mentioned rigs are not the only affected assets working offshore India. Namely, India’s offshore drilling contractor Aban Offshore suspended operations on the Aban IV jack-up drilling rig for the second time due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The rig is under contract with ONGC and is operating off the West Coast of India.

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Just last month, another Aban jack-up – Aban III – was suspended on 13 April. This rig returned to operations on 24 April.

India is currently going through a terrible period due to the coronavirus pandemic and has registered over 21 million cases in total, although the consensus is that the number is a vast undercount.

According to information provided by various organisations, India registered over 410,000 cases of Covid-19 just on Wednesday, 5 May. In the prior week, India had over 2.7 million new coronavirus cases.