Authorities in Russia's gas-rich Yamal-Nenets region in West Siberia have asked oil and gas producers to halt the arrival of new personnel to the region and field installations as the number of new Covid-19 cases doubled at the end of the last week.

The requested halt in personnel changes will last until 6 February, with operators to ask existing workers at their installations whether they are prepared to extend their shifts until this date.

Yamal-Nenets governor Dmitry Artyukhov also ordered oil and gas operators to conduct Covid-19 tests for all incoming personnel.

The majority of new cases have been seen among local residents, with remote installations – estimated to host over 100,000 shift workers - yet to report a new surge in cases.

In 2020, shift duration in the Yamal-Nenets region was tripled to almost three months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but returned to normal last year, helped by requirements for vaccination of incoming workers.

New restrictions are not expected to immediately affect production of natural gas and oil in a region that hosts most of Russia's big operators, including Gazprom, Novatek, Gazprom Neft and Lukoil.

But restrictions may become a burden if they remain in effect in the second quarter.

Thousand of new builders are expected to arrive to Yamal-Nenets as early as June to start major construction effort on the Gydan Peninsula where Novatek continues preparations for the installation of a first train under Arctic LNG 2 project and pushes forward related field development programme.

The first train of the plant is planned to come onstream in 2023, with Arctic LNG 2 second and third trains expected to become operational in 2024 and 2025.