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Brazil’s Petrobras reduces on-site workforce by 50% amid virus efforts

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(S&P Global) Brazilian state-led oil company Petrobras slashed administrative staff by at least 50%, including at operations units such as refineries and production facilities, amid expanding efforts across Latin America’s biggest country to limit social contact and avoid dissemination of COVID-19.

“The measure seeks to contribute to official efforts to reduce circulation in public spaces and keep people at home,” Petrobras said in a statement Tuesday. In-person staff that can work remotely will be reduced by a minimum of at least 50%, except for medical staff, Petrobras said.

Petrobras first announced work-from-home measures just under two weeks ago after an employee at the company’s Rio de Janeiro headquarters contracted COVID-19 while on holiday abroad. While the infection was discovered before the worker returned to the office, Petrobras enacted measures to avoid further spread of the virus such as reducing in-person meetings and restricting employee travel.

The company also repatriated 37 workers from China, where they were involved with subsalt projects such as construction of new floating production, storage and offloading vessels, or FPSOs, at Chinese shipyards. None of the workers tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Brazil and being quarantined.

Brazil has also started to act more aggressively in recent days, shutting down bars, restaurants and public spaces such as Rio’s iconic beaches to varying degrees of success. Beachgoers largely ignored firefighters’ pleas in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, turning a deaf ear to messages blaring over loudspeakers that urged residents to empty packed beaches and return home.

President Jair Bolsonaro also met with cheering supporters in Brasilia. So far, 14 members of the team Bolsonaro led on an official visit to the US that included meetings with President Donald Trump earlier this month have tested positive for COVID-19.

Petrobras said that additional measures could be implemented, depending on developments. “Petrobras is evaluating the need for new measures daily, with the support of a permanent committee created to accompany the evolution of the global health scenario caused by the new coronavirus,” Petrobras said.

Source: S&P Global

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