Thursday, July 30, 2020

In Mexico, more Pemex workers die from COVID-19 than nurses

The death toll of 36 workers at Pemex could not have come at a worse time for the oil company, which has been hit by the global collapse in the price of oil and faces large excess fuel. It may be safer to be a nurse in a public hospital in Mexico than a Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) worker when it comes to COVID-19. According to what was reported on Monday by the undersecretary of health, Hugo López-Gatell, 16 nurses have died from the new coronavirus. Petróleos Mexicanos reported the death of 28 workers and one contract worker with a court the same day. While it may be less dangerous to be a nurse, the death toll of doctors is slightly higher than for Pemex workers, with a total of 66 slated for Monday.

Eight other Pemex workers have died from the coronavirus since Monday, with up to four reported in a single day. Pemex’s 36 deceased workers represent almost 1 percent of the 4,477 deaths registered by COVID-19 in Mexico. Pemex has been criticized for not moving fast enough to prevent the virus from spreading. It began evacuating offshore platform workers in late April. In March, hundreds of people, including the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, gathered at Pemex offices in Mexico City to celebrate the 1938 oil expropriation, even as coronavirus cases increased worldwide and International health authorities urged countries to practice social distancing. Pemex’s actions mirror those of the federal government, which was slow to impose a national blockade, and has chosen not to close its ports of entry or restrict visitors from countries with a large number of COVID-19 cases.

“Given the lack of application of social distancing and the general attitude of the country, even more rigorous protocols are required by companies,” said John Padilla, managing director of IPD Latin America. “That makes it a particularly major problem for Pemex, which is connected to the government in the way that we are witnessing today.” Pemex operates 24 hospitals in the country to treat its workers and their families, but none of Pemex’s deceased workers were doctors or medical personnel, according to a Pemex representative, who asked not to be identified, citing company policy.

“Pemex continues to implement a comprehensive prevention model to minimize the spread of COVID-19 among our workers, retirees, and their families,” Pemex said in a statement Thursday night. “Healthy distance measures continue to be intensified, work is done at home for administrative activities and vulnerable personnel, sanitary filters, cleaning and sanitation in work centers and distancing of operating personnel.” The number of infected by the virus could not come at a worse time for Pemex. The company has been hit by the global collapse in the price of oil and is facing large excess fuel due to falling demand.

A record loss of $ 23 billion was recorded in the first quarter and its debt is the highest of any major oil company, at more than $ 100 billion. López Obrador has faced criticism from rating agencies for suspending oil auctions started by his predecessor that allowed Pemex to share the burden of developing Mexico’s oil fields with its partners. Pemex bonds were sunk in junk territory by Moody’s last month, after several downgrades by Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings. “As Pemex now has numerous cases, we will have to wait to see if this begins to have an impact on production and operations,” said Padilla of IPD.

Source: El Financiero

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