Two U.S. associations representing interests of the country's oil and gas workers have called for the U.S. Government to "to recommend and direct the allocation of COVID-19 test kits and quick response testing and analytical equipment to the offshore oil and gas community."
The organizations, the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA), asked Federal and Louisiana government officials for the allocation of COVID-19 test kits and equipment for workers in the offshore sector.
"With approximately 25,000 workers offshore, there is an increased vulnerability to the spread of COVID-19 due to confined working environments inherent to the facilities and infrastructure that are part of offshore oil and gas production," the associations said in a joint statement last Friday.
They stressed that offshore oil and gas production is a critical element of U.S. energy and national security.
"With U.S. offshore production recently reaching 2 million barrels of oil per day, a direct, indirect and induced workforce of more than 340,000 jobs and billions of dollars generated annually for the federal treasury, Gulf Coast state governments and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, sustaining a healthy offshore workforce should be a national priority," the joint statement reads.
NOIA President Erik Milito said, “The U.S. offshore sector is doing everything in its power to keep energy flowing while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. So far, industry efforts have led to remarkable results, with an exceedingly low COVID-19 spread rate, but we need access to testing and equipment to sustain this success. On offshore facilities, 100 to 200 workers are in constant proximity throughout the day. Only the widespread testing of workers can provide companies the information and assurance that COVID-19 is being fully prevented.”
The organizations said that the offshore oil and gas industry "has done an impressive job to date in mitigating against the spread of COVID-19 among the offshore workforce," so far, however, they said that the threat and risk for infection remain high at offshore facilities.
"With some degree of success, the industry has relied upon continuous screening and the implementation of mitigation practices. Yet, due to the asymptomatic nature of the disease, only through the widespread testing of all workers can we be assured that we are preventing the spread of COVID-19 offshore. The situation for offshore oil and gas workers is exacerbated by the high rate of infection in Louisiana, which is the home or departure point for most of our workers," the letter sent to Federal agencies reads.
LMOGA Vice President Lori LeBlanc said, “Louisiana is the epicenter of servicing the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico and having access to COVID-19 testing is critical to the sustainability of producing American energy, to the safety of Louisiana’s energy workers and to ensure future offshore revenues that are dedicated to funding Louisiana’s coastal restoration and protection projects.”