State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has evacuated 480 of its employees from rigs operating in the Bay of Bengal ahead of an impending cyclone that is expected to make landfall on Friday.
Sources said ONGC has also moved at least four rigs to safer waters away from the path of severe cyclonic storm Fani.
The company had as many as six rigs exploring and drilling for oil and gas off the Andhra coast. Personnel on five of them have been completely evacuated to safer zones, they said.
The evacuated rigs include Aban-II (85 personnel), DD-8 (103), Louisiana (83) and Essar Wildcat (87 personnel).
A control room has been set up to monitor the situation developing on the eastern coast.
Operations at Paradip port in Odisha and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh have been shut and ships ordered to move out of the sea to avoid damage.
The east coast has a flurry of oil and gas installations, including refineries at Paradip, Visakhapatnam, and Chennai.
Two refineries in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, which are in the path of the cyclone, are operating on 'safe' mode, the sources said.
Besides, oil and gas exploration and production installations are scattered across the Bay of Bengal.
Safety measures have been taken to avoid any damage, they added.
Fani has been labelled as a category 3 storm on a scale of 1 to 5.