Photo: Illustration; Rig at sunrise

Report: ONGC suspends work on two rigs after 54 positive COVID-19 cases and one fatality

India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) has temporarily suspended operations at two drilling rigs in the Arabian Sea after 54 positive tests for COVID-19 and one death.

According to reports from the local media outlet, The New Indian Express, the rigs worked on the Mumbai High and Bassein fields off the west coast of India.

However, the suspension of operations at the drilling rig has not impacted production. The company continues to produce 170,000 bpd of oil and 12 million standard cubic metres of gas per day from Mumbai High and 60,000 bpd oil and 32 mmscmd gas from Bassein.

Mumbai High and Bassein are India’s top oil and gas producing fields, accounting for almost a two-thirds of the country’s production.

An ONGC spokesperson told the Express that operations were not affected and that production levels were being maintained while taking all precautions to ensure employee safety.

In the statement, the spokesperson added that any employee showing symptoms of illness was brought to the base, tested, and provided medical attention. Also, there is a dedicated Medivac helicopter which will bring offshore people with the illness back to the base.

Currently, work on only two rigs is temporarily suspended and the remaining 34 offshore rigs are operating normally with COVID-19 precautions.

The article in the Express claims that the company was following a strict rigour of employee screening and attending to anyone with even remotest symptoms.

New measures in place

The company implemented further measures beginning with a screening well before an employee boards a helicopter to go to an offshore location for work.

Every employee is tested for COVID-19 and only employees with negative test results are sent to the locations. Employees are also provided with sanitisers, mask gloves and sanitised vehicles for travel to and from their catchment area.

It is worth noting that, according to the Express, ONGC chairman and managing director Shashi Shanker took the lead in ensuring employee safety by mandating following WHO and government guidelines regarding COVID-19.


Photo by: SP Mac (used under permission from photographer)

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