SKK Migas – PetroChina International Jabung Ltd. in collaboration with think tank Tenggara Strategics hosted a virtual monthly meeting between SKK Migas and oil and gas production sharing contractors (PSCs) on Thursday, August 27, 2020. The meeting, the first to be held virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic, had the theme of “Media Handling Strategy during the Covid-19 Pandemic”.
The meeting was attended by more than 120 representatives from SKK Migas and oil and gas PSCs. SKK Migas health, safety and environment protection senior manager Kosario M. Kautsar, PetroChina HSSE manager Alvin Reginald and The Jakarta Post chief editor Nezar Patria spoke during the event. SKK Migas Secretary Murdo Gantoro and PetroChina VP HR & Relations Dencio Renato Boele gave opening speeches, with Murdo also officially opening the meeting.
In his speech, Murdo emphasized public relation officers’ important role in delivering accurate information to strategic stakeholders, including the media, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Dencio said that, through effective media communication, hopefully SKK Migas and oil and gas companies could boost public support for upstream oil and gas activities.
Kosario and Alvin then talked about the experiences of SKK Migas and PetroChina, respectively, in handling Covid-19 cases and news coverage. Kosario said that workers must be actively involved in fostering safety culture to curb Covid-19 spread. “Workers must be role models for their families in adhering to health protocols. Families must be on the front line in nurturing self-awareness to curb Covid-19 spread,” he explained.
Alvin said that PetroChina had to face media scrutiny when news spread of confirmed Covid-19 cases among its workers in Jabung Block, despite the company having implemented strict health protocols in its work areas.
Alvin explained that PetroChina’s field workers were required to take swab tests and undergo quarantine before returning to office. Moreover, all field workers are required to wear masks and face shields as well as adhere to physical distancing rules.
“However, it is difficult to control daily-commuting workers once they are outside the office area,” Alvin explained. Echoing Kosario, Alvin said that individual awareness among workers was important to curb Covid-19 spread effectively.
Alvin continued that, when news spread that PetroChina’s Jabung Block workers had Covid-19, there was widespread public resistance and the company had to provide clarifications. “At the time, we even faced demands to shut down our operations. This showed us that communicating to the public and key stakeholders is important to keep the situation calm in a crisis. How we communicate is also important,” he said.
Nezar said that, in tackling a crisis, company spokespersons must give clarification immediately. “Do not let an impactful news article snowball. Use straightforward language to avoid controversial interpretation. Give factual information, pay attention to deadlines, be professional and do not get suspicious towards reporters,” he explained.