Safety of Africa’s Oil Sector Workers Should be of Priority
Due to the extended travel restrictions caused by the outbreak of coronavirus across the world, the African Energy Chamber is urging all stakeholders in Africa’s oil industry to put the safety of oil workers and the ability of oil companies to continue operating at the top of industry priorities by allowing a much-needed rotation of oil sector workers. Some chartered flights with oil industry personnel and medical equipment have been allowed to land on a few oil-producing countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, among others who have recently joined.
The African Energy Chamber believes that such chartered flight operations led by international oil companies such as ExxonMobil in Equatorial Guinea must be expanded across all oil-producing states and governments should immediately facilitate these movements. The chamber says several additional special flights can and should be organized in and out of African oil-producing countries. Upon arrival of the workers in the various oil cities, all personnel on board should go under mandatory quarantine. This is in full compliance with the Advisory Guidelines for the Management and Safety of Oil Workers issued by the African Energy Chamber.
Because of sustained lockdowns and travel restrictions globally, oil workers have been forced to stay on-site longer and work extra hours, increasing the risk of lost time injury across oil industry operations.
Comments of NJ Ayuk on the safety guidelines
“Whether oil companies have been forced to maintain personnel on site for extended periods of time or withdraw their workers altogether, the situation is no longer viable. Oil workers need to be able to rotate safely in and out of the work sites, and fields need to be maintained and operated by sound and rested personnel,” NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber said in a report by the Chamber.
“We urge oil-producing countries to work with oil and air companies to adhere to the Chamber’s Advisory Guidelines and ensure a safe movement of oil sector personnel across the continent. We continue to have positive dialogue with governments and the industry and we are confident about a solution very soon,” he added.
What else can be done to ensure the smooth and safe rotation of oil field workers and why is it important?
There is also space for commercial airlines to operate special charter flights between key oil countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, South Sudan, Angola, Ghana and Nigeria on a bi-monthly basis in which oil companies could book seats for their personnel. Without such movement taking place, production across African oil & gas fields could be greatly impacted and the safety of our workers could put in jeopardy.
The African oil sector has already been brutally hit by coronavirus pandemic and the oil price crash. Adding to the disruptions are with restrictions that have handicapped the industry. The African Energy Chamber says if these recommendations are not adhered to, it will only lead to a longer and slower recovery in the oil industry.