Mexico’s Oil Company’s Math Claims Better Worker Safety

July 7, 2015

In late May, Pemex, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, announced that it had succeeded in bringing its worker fatality and accident rate below the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers’ international average in 2014.

That’s hard to verify because the IOGP has yet to release its figures for 2014. The most recent year for which the association has published data is 2013, and for that period, Mexico’s accident and fatality rate was six times the international average, making it one of the most dangerous places for oil workers in the world.

The IOGP’s key indicator for measuring worker safety is the so-called lost time injury frequency (LTIF), representing the number of fatalities plus “lost work day cases,” or injuries that caused a worker to miss one day on the job, per one million hours worked.

Pemex says its LTIF for 2014 was 0.38.

That’s not only lower than the IOGP’s international average for 2013 of 0.45. It’s also a huge improvement from Mexico’s LTIF of 3.14 for 2013 and an even higher 6.98 in 2012. In 2012 and 2013, more than 99 percent of all work hours reported to the IOGP for Mexico came from Pemex.

But it turns out that much of that improvement in 2014 came from differences between Pemex’s math and the IOGP’s.

When reporting hours worked to the IOGP, Pemex, like other members, counts only company employees and contractors involved in oil exploration and production. For 2013, that number was 49.7 million hours.

For its in-house calculations, though, Pemex included hours worked by employees in transportation and distribution, maintenance and logistics operations, warehouse and engineering, and even administrative and corporate operations. That bumped up hours worked for 2013 to 394 million.

Thus by dividing the number of fatalities and accidents by a vastly larger number of hours, Pemex was able to produce a much lower LTIF.

Pemex said that the numbers it reports to IOGP are correct as an international reference. It said it uses its own metrics, based on calculations that separate out direct Pemex employees from contractors, to compare itself to other companies in the industry.

The IOGP declined to comment.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay in Mexico City and M.B. Pell and Mica Rosenberg in New York. Edited by John Blanton.)

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