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COVID-19: 54 staff test positive, ops at 2 rigs on hold. How is ONGC fighting the risk?

At oil and gas behemoth ONGC, 54 positive cases of COVID-19 have come to light and one death has been reported

At oil and gas behemoth ONGC, 54 positive cases of COVID-19 have come to light and one death has been reported.
At oil and gas behemoth ONGC, 54 positive cases of COVID-19 have come to light and one death has been reported.
  • Of the 54 employees who have tested positive, 25 employees were stationed at Sagar Jyoti and 29 employees were at Sagar Kiran

  • ONGC’s overall operations have not been impacted because of the suspension and production level is being maintained

New Delhi: At oil and gas behemoth ONGC (Oil & Natural Gas Corporation), 54 positive cases of COVID-19 have come to light and one death has been reported. And in the wake of these infections, the oil PSU has suspended operations at two drilling rigs in western India. An official spokesperson who confirmed the news to PSU Watch also said that all safety protocols are being followed at ONGC offices and onshore and offshore locations to ensure safety of its employees.

Of the 54 employees who have tested positive, 25 employees were stationed at Sagar Jyoti and 29 employees were at Sagar Kiran. The two rigs are located in Mumbai High and Bassein.

COVID-19: Shutdown has not impacted production

Even though operations have been suspended temporarily at the two drilling rigs, work at the remaining 34 rigs in the offshore has been going on as usual. The spokesperson said that ONGC’s overall operations have not been impacted because of the suspension and production level is being maintained, the spokesperson said.

ONGC runs an essential service. But is it taking all safety precautions?

Sources, who spoke to PSU Watch on the condition of anonymity, alleged that the infection spread due to lack of proper guidelines. “During the lockdown, crews in Mumbai offshore fields worked continuously for around 60 days before ONGC arranged charter flights for the staff to reach Mumbai. In Gujarat’s Ahmedabad and Mehsana, employees are going back from fields to their homes without COVID-19 test,” one of the sources said. 

On being asked about the safety procedures being followed at ONGC, the spokesperson said, “When the nationwide lockdown was put in place for the first time, our employees were forthcoming and had said that they were ready to extend their stay on locations. Many of them worked for 60 days at a stretch. And we later arranged chartered flights to bring them back. During crew change, employees are picked up in sanitised vehicles, tested for COVID-19 and are sent offshore only if they test negative. Any offshore employee showing symptoms of illness is brought to the base, tested and provided medical attention. We have a dedicated Medevac helicopter to bring people (posted offshore) with illness back to the base.”

He added that the WHO guidelines was communicated to employees by ONGC CMD Shashi Shanker on March 4 itself. And subsequently, SOPs have been shared and helpdesks have been set up on the internal portal to provide help to both current and former employees. “Well before the lockdown was announced, we had put in place a digital infrastructure to enable work from home for employees, should the need be. Our top management has been in touch with employees at all locations, especially onshore and offshore field locations, through video conferencing,” the spokesperson said.

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