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Nigerian authorities in the Rivers state have freed 22 Exxon employees who were arrested last week and quarantined for breaching a coronavirus containment order that restricts movement across the state.
“The Rivers State Government on Sunday released 22 staff of Exxon Mobil who were arrested for violating the State Executive Order restricting movement in the state,” the state government said in a statement cited by Reuters.
Nigeria has reported 627 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 21 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. To help contain the disease, the country’s petroleum industry watchdog ordered offshore field operators to reduce their workforce on platforms and extend their rotations to 28 days from 14 days.
Meanwhile, as it also battles the effects of the supply-demand imbalance, Nigeria has slashed its oil prices by as much as $3 per barrel to attract more buyers. Even so, it may fail to do so as supply continues to far outweigh the demand for crude.
The demand destruction and the low oil prices will hit many African oil producers, with Nigeria leading the pack with estimated revenue losses of $15.4 billion at $30 oil this year, estimates from the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center showed last week.
The coronavirus is also taking its toll, and things could get worse before they get better, at least according to the World Health Organization. The WHO warned last week that Africa could become the next epicenter of the disease, after Europe and North America.
The number of known cases in Africa had risen by 51 percent over the week to Friday, April 18, the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said, while the number of reported deaths increased by 60 percent over that same period. Ghebreysus has said that the real figures are likely higher than those being reported.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.