Pemex Reduces Offshore Manning as COVID-19 Cases Rise

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Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) reported Tuesday that it has sustained 215 fatalities due to COVID-19 among its insured population, including 74 workers, 75 retirees, 64 dependent family members and two external personnel. 

An additional 35 people are in intensive care, Pemex said, and the company has recorded over 1,500 confirmed cases and 6,800 suspected cases. The average age of the deceased is in the range of 65 years and the overwhelming majority are men, reflecting the higher COVID-19 mortality rate for certain populations. 

The outbreak has affected Pemex’s offshore oil and gas operations as well. On Sunday, the company said that it would scale back staffing on its platforms in order to protect its workforce. About 260 employees and contractors have already returned to shore at Ciudad del Carmen, Pemex said, and many more returnees are expected.

The company’s response has come in for criticism from labor advocates, some of whom allege that Pemex has not done enough to minimize the risk of COVID-19 at its facilities. 

“Pemex released the Health Emergency Response Plan on March 25 . . . [mandating that] oil platforms, facilities must be disinfected, kept safe, check shipments and all equipment for I work on the platforms. This has not been done,” alleged a spokesman for the independent opposition union Petromex, Óscar Solórzano.

Pemex’s revenues are down due to falling demand for oil products and the declining price of oil, but the company’s high debt load – the largest of any oil major – remains intact. Pemex has asked its managerial-level workers to take a voluntary 25 percent pay cut through December in order to help it weather the global shutdown, according to Reuters. 

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