A Sarawak lawmaker has reportedly blamed national oil company Petronas for a new coronavirus outbreak in the state’s oil and gas town Bintulu in Malaysia.

Bintulu Member of Parliament Tiong King Sing claimed that the potentially fatal Covid-19 was found in many of those on board the Grade One Manjung 7 (GOM 7), a Malaysia-flagged anchor handling vessel that had been working for Petronas.

The vessel had entered Bintulu port in Sarawak, East Malaysia in early July.

Tiong alleged that the GOM 7 had failed to carry out the compulsory 14-day vessel quarantine upon arrival as stipulated by the State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) and had also allowed workers to disembark or others to board during that fortnight.

Less than a week after docking at Bintulu, more than 20 offshore workers had boarded the vessel before it departed for a platform on Petronas Carigali's D18 field, reported Focus Malaysia.

Subsequently, 24 of those from the GOM 7 - 22 crewmen and two oil rig workers - last week tested positive for Covid-19 after the vessel returned to Bintulu.

“They include two oil rig workers who were found to be positive with Covid-19, but the company failed to disclose the truth to the Health Department during an investigation. This behaviour by a government-linked company is irresponsible and contemptuous at the least,” said Tiong.

Unvaccinated

He also queried why only four of the total 48 crew and oil workers on board the GOM 7 had been vaccinated.

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The Sarawak authorities said they would be inspecting offshore oil and gas platforms offshore Bintulu to ensure that coronavirus protocols are being followed.

Tiong said he has asked the Health Department to conduct the inspections and to close down offshore operations if correct procedures were not being adhered to.

The state authorities want oil and gas players to organise vaccination programmes for their employees working in Sarawak, including those working at the Petronas LNG Complex at Bintulu.

Upstream has approached Petronas for comment.