600 offshore contract workers rescued

Vol 23, PW 22 (10 Sep 20) News in Brief

Approximately 600 contract workers stranded at ONGC offshore platforms for more than five months can finally go home in mid-September.

ONGC sources confirm that following a report in PETROWATCH (Vol 23, PW 21), top bosses intervened. "Emails have been going around the past two or three days," says a source.

ONGC managed to "convince" contractors to take the stranded workers ashore "without preconditions" about who will pay for the mandatory Covid-19 quarantine and testing expenses and replacement workers. ONGC reportedly told contractors first to carry out the overdue crew change "as early as possible" adding the contentious issue of payments can be sorted out later, after mutual discussions.

Contractors have begun hiring cooks, cleaners, plumbers, electricians and other support staff who will first be quarantined in Mumbai hotels for seven days and tested for Coronavirus before they move to ONGC's eight rigs and 12 platforms in the western offshore. Sources say three catering contractors had the most contract workers offshore.

Each rig typically employs 16 contract workers, while each offshore platform has 35 contract workers, providing catering and other support services. "Most are from Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal," we hear.