What are some of the key safety challenges in the upstream environment and how have they become more complicated because of COVID-19?

Upstream sites are hazardous work environments at normal times. During COVID-19, the challenge becomes even greater. Sending people to site takes more prep work before mobilization with COVID-19 testing, PCR test tracking, providing accommodation with social distancing and disinfecting it after every use.

Another key issue is transportation to and from site. Number of people in the vehicle needs to be within the maximum headcount permitted which means more trips or vehicles depending on the urgency.

Upstream work also requires intensive daily usage of breathing air equipment. Workers are not assigned a specific Breathing Air set. The equipment is placed in specific areas like the rig floor, muster area or accommodation and workers grab the first available piece of equipment and go to work or egress. Therefore, masks must be thoroughly disinfected daily to avoid the spread of disease onsite.

What are the additional safety measures that have been put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 onsite?

We have added numerous interventions to reduce if not prevent the spread of COVID-19 onsite. Firstly, all personnel going to any site from rotational days or between callouts need to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test prior to visiting the client site. Next, all transportation to any facility, whether United Safety or customer gets cleaned and disinfected and social distancing is applied to passenger. Additionally, body temperature is measured at site entry and all PPE issued to working teams such as breathing apparatus and gas detection equipment go through a daily deep cleaning process to ensure thorough disinfection of the equipment.

What advice would you give to anyone working in the upstream environment now?

It’s all about risk management and reducing the possibility of exposure to infection; therefore, follow the rules of social distancing in transportation and at your accommodation. Use only equipment that is labeled as being properly cleaned and inspected to reduce the risk of exposure. Wear the proper respiratory protection and Stay Safe!

Managing safe upstream operations during COVID-19

Sameh Adel Schoeib

General Manager, Middle East & Africa Downstream

Sameh Schoeib is the General Manager, Middle East and Africa based in Dubai. He comes with 12 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Mr. Schoeib has previously held positions such as Sales Manager Eastern Hemisphere, and Geomarket Manager GCC. He has been instrumental in developing the industrial business in Qatar and was responsible for the start-up of our business unit there. Mr. Schoeib holds an Engineering degree in Telecommunications and a post graduate degree in International Management from the University of Liverpool.