Exxon Mobil Corporation’s oil and gas exploration in west Africa has been disrupted by what is now the largest Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in history.
Killing more than 3,338 people in west Africa, the virus has hit hardest in Liberia, also affecting Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
This impact on Liberia in particular has disrupted Exxon Mobil’s plans to drill offshore of the country. Reuters reported that Exxon Mobil announced last April that its Liberian affiliate had acquired an 80% interest in Liberia Block 13. Speaking at a news conference, Rex Tillerson, CEO at Exxon Mobil said the company had some drilling plans for blocks offshore of west Africa, but is looking at when to resume operations due to the need for shore based support. As an additional precaution, Reuters reported that the company has also prohibited some employees from travelling to countries affected by EVD, including restricting all non-essential travel to Nigeria. Transmitted to people from wild animals and spread within the human population through human-to-human transmission, the average fatality rate of EVD is 50%. As yet there is no licensed vaccine to treat the virus.