Five offshore workers of Perenco T&T Limited (Perenco) are now in quarantine, after one out of the group tested positive just before they were all taken to the offshore Poui platform.

Guardian Media was told by a worker (who spoke on condition of anonymity), that since last year’s bout with the COVID-19 infections—which saw some 50 workers test positive—the company has heightened its health and safety measures for all staff, especially offshore workers.

Perenco included rapid testing as part of its procedures, as they do PCR tests on all offshore workers before they are allowed to board the shuttles that take them to their respective platforms.

It is believed that because of this stringent measure that a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 infections was averted.

“Crew change was on Wednesday morning, so when the group of workers showed up for duty, they were given the rapid testing,” the source said.  “It was there and then that one of the guys tested positive, but they moved quickly in dealing with him and sending the rest of his group, which is four others, into quarantine,” the source revealed.

“So luckily, they didn’t reach the Poui platform yet because then it would have been chaos just like last year, where there were many positive cases on the platforms and eventually Perenco had to shut down its operations,” the worker added.

When contacted for comment, Perenco’s HSE Advisor/Community Relations, Samantha Inglefield, gave the assurance that although Perenco T&T Limited has had cases of COVID-19 on its offshore installations, “at present there are no cases of COVID-19 on the Poui Alpha platform, or any of its offshore installations”.

Inglefield added: “Whenever there has a been a confirmed case of COVID-19 on any of our offshore installations, Perenco immediately enacts its Incident Management Team, and liaises closely with the Ministry of Health to manage any situation.”

“Perenco remains under the direction of, and in coordination with, the Ministry and other regulatory Agencies, to ensure the health and safety of all its onshore and offshore workers, as well as respecting the Ministry’s patient confidentiality guidelines,” Inglefield told Guardian Media.

“We continuously work at improving and modifying our COVID-19 controls for working on, and mobilisation to, all of our sites and immediately report any confirmed COVID-19 cases to the Ministry of Health for guidance and support in the management of such instances,” she noted.

“Perenco appreciates and understands that this is a very difficult time for everyone. We remain fully committed to the welfare of our workforce and continue to adhere to all contractual obligations,” she added.

As at Christmas Day 2020, close to 50 offshore workers tested positive for COVID-19 and were in state quarantine at the UWI Debe campus, whilst close to 30 workers who tested negative were placed at the Tradewinds Hotel for a 14-day period for observation purposes.

At that time, all operations at all platforms at the Teak, Samaan and Poui fields were shutdown with just a skeletal staff of not more than ten workers dispatched to man the generators.