DPR Expresses Concern Over COVID-19 Protocols Compliance by Oil Firms

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The Nigeria Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has expressed concern over non-compliance of oil and gas companies operating in the country to established protocols aimed at containing the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

The concerns were raised by DPR, which is the regulator of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, in a memo on Tuesday to oil and gas operators on the management of the Coronavirus. The circular read: “We wish to commend your efforts in implementing stringent measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in your immediate environment and areas of operations in line with government’s directives and circulars issued by the DPR.

“In spite of these efforts, the industry has sadly recorded COVID-19 cases in some offshore and remote locations, many of which are linked to non-adherence to established protocols.

“It is worrisome to note that some personnel of government authorities do not subject themselves to the controlled isolation period which forms part of the protocol for the management of COVID-19 by operators prior to embarking to these locations.”

The DPR said that such act of non-compliance can severely disrupt activities in the industry which is a critical sector of the Nigerian economy. According to the Department, non-adherence to the established protocols puts everyone at various ends of the value chain at risk as COVID-19 does not recognise profession, level or cadre.

“Consequently, and pursuant to Regulation 45 of the Petroleum (Drilling & Production) Regulations, 1969, no personnel (including government authorities) shall be permitted to embark to offshore and remote locations in the oil and gas industry without being fully subjected to established protocols.

“Furthermore, all operators are to ensure that evidence of compliance with the protocols by personnel travelling to offshore and remote locations are duly documented. For the avoidance of doubt, no personnel shall be granted waiver of any sort. This is for your immediate and strict implementation,” the circular read.

It would be recalled that on June 20, the government of Rivers State was forced to impose a total lockdown of the Bonny Local Government Area and Onne community in the Eleme LGA to check the spread of Coronavirus in the LNG rich enclaves in the state.

Governor Nyesom Wike, said the lockdown was in pursuant to the fundamental objective of stopping the spread of Coronavirus. “We have reviewed the situation in Bonny Island and Onne communities and come to the conclusion that a total lockdown is necessary at this time to shut down the continuing spread of the virus in these communities,” he said.

“All entry and exit from the two communities, except those on essential services and duly permitted, are also banned. Security agencies have been directed to enforce the lockdown by arresting and prosecuting anyone who dares to disobey these directives.”

The governor noted that, with a total of 866 positive cases out of 2,572 tested samples at the time of the broadcast, the state was gradually becoming the next epicentre of the virus in the South-South region of the country.

He said, though the state had recorded 30 deaths, including prominent persons, and 356 persons had recovered and were discharged from treatment centres, residents should prepare for more COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja 

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