A major subsidiary of Gazprom is the first operator in the producing region of Yamal-Nenets to axe a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for incoming shift workers, paving the way for a ramp-up of activity in the core Russian oil and gas patch.
Such measures, brought in to halt the spread of Covid-19, have hampered gas field activities in Yamal-Nenets, West Siberia, where shift workers are a key element in driving production.
Cancellation of the mandatory quarantine is a major relief for Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg, which had earlier complained of increasing costs as it had to pay salaries for employees staying in quarantine for two weeks, as well as for their accommodation.
The decision is also expected to ease social tensions as shift workers have had to arrive earlier to Yamal-Nenets at the expense of their holiday allowance.
The 14-day mandatory quarantine measure is set to end on 27 April.
Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg said its personnel passed the 63% immunity threshold for Covid-19 in early April, with a high vaccination rate at its installations in Yamal-Nenets and among shift workers on holiday in their home regions.
Yamal-Nenets Governor Dmitry Artyukhov amended local regulations at the end of last year to allow oil and gas operators to determine whether to require workers to isolate on arrival.
Earlier this year, Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg said that it would wait until 70% of its personnel had tested positive for antibodies to the Covid-19 virus before relaxing the rules.
In January, Russian authorities amended labour regulations, removing permission for oil and gas operators to insist on three-month shifts that was granted last year to reduce the risk of infection at remote installations.
Shifts — traditionally running for two weeks at most installations in Yamal-Nenets — can now not last longer than one month, although in exceptional circumstances, they can be allowed for not more than two months.
Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg said that arriving shift workers are still required to have a recent Covid-19 test certificate from a lab that is authorised by the company. The operator had earlier reported cases of fake certificates being presented by incoming personnel.
According to Yamal-Nenets authorities, 18 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the region on 19 April, with five positive tests among shift workers.
Meanwhile, the availability of Russian-made vaccines in the region has exceeded the number of those ready to get vaccinated, according to reports in local social networking groups.
The Yamal-Nenets region employs the largest number of shift workers in Russia, estimated at more than 100,000 people, with about half of them working for Gazprom’s regional gas-producing subsidiaries.
Besides Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg, other major oil and gas operators in the region are Gazprom Dobycha Nadym, Gazprom Dobycha Urengoy, gas independent Novatek and oil producer Gazprom Neft.