Brazil offshore oil rigs hardest hit by COVID-19

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There have been 126 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among oil and gas workers in Brazil, including 74 people who were recently on offshore oil platforms, regulator ANP told Reuters on Tuesday, exposing an outbreak far worse than previously thought.

The regulator said via email that as of Monday evening there were another 897 suspected cases of coronavirus in the industry, which employs tens of thousands of Brazilians and is a key bulwark of Latin America’s largest economy.

Companies have been girding for outbreaks in the offshore oil industry, where employees often work, sleep and eat in close quarters.

While isolated cases have been reported in other oil-producing areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, Brazil’s offshore fields appear to have been hit the hardest.

Although the impact on production in Brazil has been modest so far, skeletal staffing is already stalling development in some of the world’s most promising offshore oil fields, adding to uncertainty as global demand for petroleum dries up.

According to the Reuters report, two states at the heart of Brazil’s oil industry, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are major coronavirus hotspots, with nearly 13,000 of the country’s more than 25,000 confirmed cases, according to Health Ministry data.

In Guyana, US oil major ExxonMobil has said it has well-established processes in place to manage impacts related to infectious disease outbreaks. Exxon is the operator at the 6.6 million acres Stabroek Block where it has found more than 8 billion barrels oil resources.

The company said measures being implemented include screening of workers at the Ogle heliport before they are cleared to travel offshore to ensure they are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus and that they have not knowingly come in contact with anyone who has the virus.

SBM Offshore, operator of the lone oil producing vessel in the country – the Liza Destiny FPSO – has said it remains mobilized and is taking all necessary precautions to ensure safe operations and safeguard the health of its personnel onshore and offshore.

So far there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on offshore installations in Guyana.

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