Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has reminded oil companies in the country that the 14-day self-isolation regulation handed down to the industry was still in force.
The reminder might not be unconnected with the controversies over the recent arrest of some oil workers in parts of the country, especially Rivers, which had set Governor Nyesom Wike against federal authorities.
It may also be against the backdrop of a report a few days ago of some expatriates working for a multinational oil company, who were flown into a hotel in Warri, Delta State, for onward deployment offshore, without adherence to the extant industry rules.
But the DPR in its third advisory by the department’s Director, Mr. Sarki Auwalu, urged oil industry operators to ensure that all protocols are followed in the movement of their staff, both offshore and onshore, so as not to worsen the covid-19 pandemic in the country.
While acknowledging the efforts in implementing stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus in the oil and gas environment in line with government’s directives and circulars issued by the DPR, the petroleum industry regulatory agency noted that sticking with the rules will ensure safety as well as ensuring continuity of businesses and operations.
“Most offshore operators maintain a transit centre in an onshore facility where intending offshore workers are isolated and monitored prior to embarkation for a 14/14/14, 14/28/14 or 14/28/28 days cycle (i.e. transit centre/offshore/off-duty) in compliance with DPR’s earlier directive on offshore rotation.
“To ensure that asymptomatic carriers are not missed out, a minimum of 14 days isolation period prior to embarkation should form part of your protocol for management of covid-19 outbreak as this conforms with the coronavirus incubation period of 2-14 days.
“In addition, isolation centres should be made conducive enough to prevent psychological trauma and emotional imbalance as a result of solitary confinement,” the DPR reminded the industry players in a circular.
The DPR said there were generally no requirements for supervised isolation of offshore workers immediately after disembarkation since offshore facilities are inherently controlled and isolated.
It noted that while some operators have commenced covid-19 testing and others were making plans to acquire appropriate test kits, all companies should ensure that such test kits and procedures conform to NCDC/ WHO standards to guarantee reliable results and avert needless panic that may result from inaccurate testing.
Furthermore, the DPR enjoined the unions, as critical stakeholders, to maintain high level of cooperation with their respective companies during this precarious and challenging period.
“All operators shall promptly report any case of covid-19 in their offices, locations or installations to appropriate authorities and the DPR.
“In addition, similar measures should be adopted for onshore field locations where interface with host communities and local workers is prevalent, to complement ongoing efforts of government at combatting the COVID-19 spread.
“In light of the above, we enjoin all operators, service providers and contractors to remain focused in implementing established protocols at all locations and be alert to further directives of government” the agency said.