Perenco’s Teak, Samaan and Poui (TSP) field.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says Government does not want businesses to shut down and urged all entities to follow all necessary COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols.

The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) has accused Perenco T&T oil and gas company of putting workers’ lives at risk, adding that Perenco’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak was a clear violation of the workers’ rights and an attempt at a cover up.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday Deyalsingh said on December 15 there were two cases of COVID on the Teak platform at Perenco.

“Three days later that exploded to 36 cases on December 19. On the Samaan Field we got on additional case on the 16 so that brought the total case count for the Perenco operations up to 39.

“We did swab all the other areas and luckily all those other tests came back negative,” the minister explained.

He reiterated that guidelines are not only in place to ensure safe operations but also to ensure business continuity.

“Whether you are a cinema, a restaurant, a hardware or oil and gas what we don’t want is for businesses to shut down. Now with this, Perenco is going to have to lose some production capacity,” Deyalsingh said.

Agreeing that the union should be concerned Deyalsingh said his ministry has responded to the union and assured that the Health Ministry will be working with the Energy Ministry to address the issue.

“Adherence to protocols is just good business at this point in time. The Ministry of Health never took its eyes off of this Perenco issue,” Deyalsingh said, adding that on Tuesday decontamination began on the Teak platform.

He added that “hot and cold zones” were set up and all bio-burden materials such as food stuff and linens were sanitised.

All general trash were also removed and incinerated.

Air quality testing continues to take place as well as all human touch areas on the rig like catwalks, hand rails, cranes and hooks, sleeping and recreation accommodation and other areas were also sanitised.

Deyalsingh added that since the 19th of this month there have not been any new cases at Perenco.

“We did write a letter to Perenco urging them in a very robust manner that the protocols should be adhered to. I am urging all businesses to adhere to the protocols that we set out,” Deyalsingh added.

Perenco is the operator of the consortium that manages the Teak, Samaan and Poui (TSP) fields, with a 70 per cent stake acquired in 2016.

These fields are located 20 km to 45 kilometres from the Southeast Coast of Trinidad in water depths of 55 metres.

Perenco’s partners are Petrotrin and the National Gas Company, which each hold a 15 percent interest in the TSP fields.

This includes 81 licenses for a total area of 1,780 square kilometres.