Two Congolese oil workers died last month after being evacuated from one of Eni’s platforms off Congo-Brazzaville, although it is unclear if their deaths were as a result of the Covid-19 virus.

According to a letter sent by Eni Congo’s director general Marco Rotindi to Teresa Goma, head of the government’s Hydrocarbons Directorate, the Eni employee who died on 22 April was Yaba Gouassi, a health, safety and environment superintendent.

The letter said Gouassi had his annual medical check-up six months ago and was declared fit for work, but at another check-up in the week prior to his death, was found to have a cold, which improved after treatment.

However, in the week of his death, Stanislas reported feeling poorly, had lost his appetite and, after a further check-up on 22 April, was evacuated from the platform by boat.

However, an hour into the voyage to Pointe Noire, Gouassi died, despite attempts to resuscitate him using a defibrillator.

The same Eni letter reported the death of a maintenance technician — Moussanda Bouka — employed by a sub-contractor to Saipem, and who was also working on the Awa platform.

According to the letter, Bouka also had symptoms of fatigue and loss of appetite, and on arriving ashore was put in the care of his company, but subsequently died.

Facility shutdown

As a result of these two deaths, Eni's letter said it suspended arrivals and departures from Awa, which had already been in lockdown since 6 April due to Covid-19.

The operator also sent medical equipment to the platform to test people on board and disinfected the entire facility.

Responding to an Upstream enquiry, an Eni spokesperson said it “regrets to confirm the death of one of its employees" in Congo-Brazzaville.

“The deceased, a 53-year old man of Congolese nationality, fell suddenly unwell on board the Awa platform and died during medical evacuation.

“His family and local institutions were immediately notified and medical procedures were activated to ascertain cause of death.”

Lock down precaution

The Awa platform, as with other facilities off Congo-Brazaville, said Eni’s spokesperson, had been under lock down as a precautionary measure to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 diffusion.

The spokesperson said: “A few days after the death of our employee, all personnel were disembarked, put in quarantine and medically followed on a daily basis.”

“They were all finally released without any complication at the end of the quarantine period with negative (coronavirus) tests.”

The spokesperson for the Italian operator said Covid-19 has not had a major effect on its Congolese operations.

“There have not been substantial impacts on overall (Eni's Congo-Brazaville) production, despite several restrictive measurements put in place to avoid the spreading of Covid-19,” the spokesperson said.