Tullow Oil PLC is using contingency plans developed to avoid the dreaded Ebola outbreak in Africa to craft strategies to guard its employees against the virulent novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus has to date infected more than 575,000 persons globally with more than 26,000 deaths as a result, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Noting in its 2019 Annual Report and Accounts that it continues to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the UK-based company which has a number of operations on the African continent said, “Tullow has [the] experience of managing infectious diseases of this nature following the significant contingency planning put in place during the West African Ebola outbreak in 2015.”
During its outbreak in the 2014-2016 period, Ebola struck in a number of African countries including Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali. In addition to the African states, the disease was seen in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. All total, the outbreak resulted in just over 11,000 deaths from just over 15,000 confirmed cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The company said that at present the threat level in the countries in which it operates remains low, “as per our Infectious Disease Health Management Guideline,” but will however continue to closely monitor this as the situation develops.
“Clear information and health precautions on how employees should protect themselves and reduce exposure to, and transmission of, a range of illnesses along with general advice has been communicated across the organization. In both Ghana and Kenya Tullow’s in-country teams have set up their EID (Emerging Infectious Disease) Management committees in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak,” Tullow said.
These EID committees, it said, steer the local management response strategic report to the outbreak, including ensuring that Tullow’s contractors have implemented appropriate measures.
The company has also implemented ‘self-declaration’ forms for all personnel travelling to their offshore assets in Ghana, that require people to sign-off that they have not been to the ‘specified locations’ as defined by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the last 30 days. The company has also implemented business travel restrictions to and from these ‘specified locations’.
“In the event that the COVID-19 outbreak escalates, the country specific Business Continuity Plans set out how Tullow will continue to operate, recover quickly from, and effectively manage the response,” Tullow stated.
Many oil and gas companies, in addition to service companies, have instituted a number of measures to ensure that their staff are protected and to further ensure that the spread of the virus is minimized, instituting work-from-home practices for non-essential staff.