Ebola virus that has been sowing death throughout west Africa for months is affecting ExxonMobil’s offshore Liberia drilling plans.
As Reuters reports, Rex W. Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO yesterday said: “We had some drilling plans for some blocks offshore West Africa in Liberia. We are having to look at when it would be prudent to resume operations there because you do have to have shore-based support.”
ExxonMobil’s Liberian affiliate last year bought 80 percent interest in Liberia Block 13 (LB-13), comprising more than 625,000 acres (2,500 square kilometers) offshore Liberia in water depths ranging from 250 to 10,000 feet (75 to 3,000 meters). Under the production sharing agreement, Exxon has three years to drill an exploration well in the block.
According to media reports, ExxonMobil has prohibited non-essential personnel from travelling to the African regions most hit by the deadly disease.
High fatality rate in Liberia
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the current outbreak in west Africa, with first cases notified in March 2014, is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined.
Of all Ebola-affected countries, Liberia has the highest cumulative number of reported cases and deaths, amounting, on 8 September, to nearly two thousand cases and more than one thousand deaths. The case-fatality rate, at 58%, is also among the highest.
According to current assessments, 6553 (probable, confirmed and suspected) cases and 3083 deaths have been reported in the current outbreak of EVD as of 23 September 2014 by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
In a statement issued yesterday, WHO said that “many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming 3 weeks.”