Brazil’s Petrobras eyes restart at oil ships hit by coronavirus

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(Reuters) – Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras plans to restart operations in the coming days at two ships used in offshore oil production that suffered coronavirus outbreaks, an executive told journalists during a call on Friday.

Petrobras Exploration and Production Director Carlos Alberto de Oliveira said operations at the Cidade de Santos should restart over the weekend, and operations at the Capixaba should restart within 10 days. Both are large ships known as FPSOs.

Brazil’s offshore oil industry has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus. Executives disclosed on the Friday call that there are some 160 confirmed cases of the virus among employees or contractors of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known. Dozens of those cases were contracted on offshore oil facilities, where employees typically eat, sleep and work in tight quarters.

Oliveira did not specify how much production may have been lost after the two FPSOs were evacuated earlier this month. The FPSO Capixaba, owned by Petrobras contractor SBM Offshore NV, was responsible for roughly 14,400 barrels per day of oil production according to the most recent data collated by the ANP, Brazil’s oil regulator. The Cidade de Santos, owned by Japanese oil services firm Modec Inc, was responsible for about 16,900 bpd of production, according to ANP data.

Petrobras is already in the process of cutting its production by 200,000 bpd as the coronavirus outbreak has pummeled demand.

Oliveira added on the call that the company will be delaying all planned maintenance stoppages at its platforms until the second half of the year to limit large agglomerations of workers.

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