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Fire highlights need for improved offshore safety
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Fire highlights need for improved offshore safety

Five offshore workers confirmed dead in platform fire

GABON: The death of five offshore workers on a Perenco offshore platform last week has once again raised the need for better safety protocols in the sector with many calling for a transparent inquiry into the incident across social media platforms.

Perenco activated its emergency response procedure on Wednesday in response to the fire which started in the mid-afternoon on the Becuna platform in the Simba Field – a shallow water conventional oil project that accounts for four percent of the west African country’s oil production alone.

Initial reports indicated that two persons had been injured and five were missing. Both injured persons were evacuated to shore on the same day and the area was secured while the fire was brought under control. All personnel were evacuated.

By Thursday, Perenco had confirmed five fatalities with one person still unaccounted for.

Posting comments on the company’s LinkedIn page, several industry workers have intimated that Perenco’s safety track record needs to be reviewed; with many highlighting the continuing need for a safety redress in the oil and gas sector as a whole.

“Safety first shall never be a SLOGAN in our industry, and we all have a strong part to play,” said a chemical engineer working in Gabon, adding that a report from the investigation into the incident should be shared to improve the safety culture.

Another oil and gas welder working in the region called out Perenco’s lack of safety protocols: “Too much insecurity in your facilities … You need to review your security policy … on all your platforms’” he posted under the announcement by the company on their LinkedIn page.

A Bargemaster who worked under contract for Perenco at the end of 2021 also posted about the lack of safety. “It was a matter of time with Perenco, I am not surprised at all,” he posted.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC), however, has stood by Perenco in the wake of the tragedy and highlighted the company’s contribution to Gabon’s oil and gas industry which has provided significant job opportunities in the region and had a positive economic impact.  

“The Chamber mourns the loss of this tragic accident. Perenco is known for its high operations, operational excellence, HSE prioritization and as one of the best in the oil industry. Perenco and the oil industry in Gabon have relatively low injury rates. We will continue to work with Perenco and Gabon to improve the working standards to ensure this does not happen again,” stated NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the AEC.

In a statement issued today, the Chamber has committed to continue to work with Perenco to advance worker safety and the maximisation of Africa’s hydrocarbon resources to drive the growth of the Gabonese and African economies.

PHOTO SOURCE: Adobe Photostock

 

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