Mexico’s state-held oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said on Sunday that it had started to reduce the number of oil workers at its offshore oil platforms to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.
As many as 259 rig workers returned from Gulf of Mexico platforms to the shore on Sunday, none of whom was found to be suspicious of COVID-19 infection, and all workers were sent home, Pemex said in a statement. With this, the company is cutting personnel on platforms by 50 percent to reduce the risk of infections and implement distancing measures.
“Indispensable staff will remain on board to keep up production,” a source at Pemex told Reuters, noting that the “It’s a situation similar to when a hurricane comes.”
So far, Pemex has registered 248 cases of coronavirus, including 28 deaths. Among the dead, five people were currently working for Pemex, 14 people were retired Pemex workers, and eight were family members, the company said in its statement on Sunday.
The reduced number of employees at Pemex’s offshore platforms will likely lead to reduced oil production, Reuters’ source said.
The coronavirus pandemic and the oil price crash came at a time in which Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was pinning his hopes on Pemex to turn around the country’s oil production which has been on a downward trend over the past decade.
The oil price meltdown will affect Mexico’s economy and is bound to deepen the global economic crisis, López Obrador said last week, a week after he clinched what he touted as a significant victory in Mexico’s foreign policy, refusing to agree to the cuts that OPEC+ had carved out for his country.
The fact that Mexico’s oil hedge protects it from the oil price crash – which hurts other OPEC+ countries much more – was said to be one of the reasons why Mexico dug in its heels and refused to cut its production as much as its OPEC+ partners asked it to.
Nevertheless, the looming global recession and collapsing oil prices will hit Mexico’s economy and oil production.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.