State-owned ONGC has temporarily suspended operations at two drilling rigs in the Arabian Sea after 54 employees tested positive for coronavirus and one died but the oil and gas production has not been impacted.
Operations at two rigs operating in the firm's prime Mumbai High and Bassein fields off the west coast were temporarily suspended after the company's testing rigour detected coronavirus positive cases, officials said.
As many as 54 offshore employees tested positive for coronavirus and one died.
The suspension of operations at the drilling rig has not impacted production and the company continues to produce 1,70,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 12 metric million standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas 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-third of the country's production.
"Our operations are not affected. Production levels are being maintained; all precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of employees," Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said in a statement when reached for comments.
Any employee showing symptoms of illness is brought to the base, tested and provided medical attention.
"There is a dedicated Medivac helicopter to bring offshore people with illness back to the base," it said. "To ensure safety of employees, work at two rigs has been temporarily suspended. Remaining 34 rigs are operating in the offshore with all COVID-19 safety precautions."
Officials said the company was following a strict rigour of employee screening and attending to anyone with even remotest symptoms.
After the coronavirus cases, that rigour has been further strengthened, 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, they said adding that employees were provided with sanitisers, mask gloves and sanitised vehicles for to and fro travel from their catchment area.
ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Shashi Shanker took lead in ensuring employee safety by mandating following of WHO and government guidelines regarding COVID-19. He has also been regularly communicating with employees to impress upon them the need to follow the safe practices.
ONGC aligned all its IT and communication infrastructure well before the announcement of the countrywide lockdown to enable employees to work from home.
Advisories as per government guidelines have been issued to employees regarding staggered timings and reduction in employee count in office, the statement said adding that deep sanitisation of all installations and offices is carried out regularly and use of masks and sanitisers are mandatory.