Increased cases of Covid-19 infection has led authorities in the key oil and gas-producing Russian region of Nenets to ban shift workers from leaving the regional airport — a move that could potential impact upstream projects.

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Nenets Governor Russia Yuri Bezdudny said the authorities have demanded that oil producers and other large Russian corporations arrange the transfer of workers to fields by helicopter as soon as they land at the airport in the regional capital, Naryan-Mar.

Covid-19 situation 'very difficult'

“This is a mandatory condition”, Bezdudny said, describing the current situation with coronavirus in the region as “very difficult”.

Oil producers — including Lukoil and Rosneft — that operate fields in the Nenets region, have been asked to monitor movements of incoming and outgoing shift workers while they are in transit, and report back to authorities.

Despite being a regional capital, Naryan-Mar is home to just over 25,000 people. Two hospitals are in operation in the city, offering 39 beds, with just nine of them equipped with ventilators, according to local reports.

Quarantine measures

Regional authorities have also asked oil operators to arrange additional accommodation at fields to isolate personnel suspected of being in contact with employees that have tested positive for Covid-19.

Last month, the authorities called for the introduction of strict controls and screening measures at two major oilfields in the region, Shapkinskoye and Kharyaga.

According to Lukoil, its major producing subsidiary in the Nenets region, Lukoil-Komi, reported oil output of almost 10.8 million tonnes (79 million barrels) between January and September this year, as against 12.1 million tonnes a year earlier.

Quoting unnamed company executives, Russian news agency Interfax said that Lukoil has shortened working hours for its head office employees in Moscow, as well as implementing a salary cut from 1 January next year as the company faces Covid-19 challenges to add to the cancellation of tax concessions for its major greenfield projects.

The number of new Covid-19 cases in Russia has been rising sharply in recent days, hitting gas producing installations on Sakhalin Island, where Gazprom-led Sakhalin Energy reportedly decided to leave just essential personal at three oil and gas offshore platforms, and a Rosneft-connected shipyard in the Far East.