Shell is helping communities in the Netherlands fight the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic by 3D printing parts for the manufacture of face masks and respiratory equipment.

The Anglo-Dutch supermajor is part of a consortium that has been developing new face protectors for doctors, made of snorkel masks.

These adjusted masks are said to cover the face fully and are connected to a medical filter by a part produced using 3D printers at the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam.

Hospitals, Delft University of Technology and other companies are involved in the project, according to Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden.

Van Beurden said in a LinkedIn video that, following the design and testing of the part, Shell is now ready to scale up production.

He also stressed the importance of natural gas in powering ongoing efforts to fight the pandemic — including its use at hospitals.

The company is also increasingly producing more hand sanitiser at its sites around the world, including in Canada, the Netherlands and Kenya.

The Shell boss previously told employees and contractors to “keep going” as they are responsible for producing about half the content of the hand-sanitising liquid being used to keep the virus in check around the world.

“The fuels Shell is producing are powering the trucks bringing food from warehouses to shops… and powering the ships getting goods from around the globe to restock the warehouses. My deep gratitude goes out to everyone working for Shell,” Van Beurden said.

“From those working on platforms out at sea, and those at our service stations who are keeping the fuel flowing for those who need it... to a team of 80 staff and contractors in China who turned up for a 12-hour shift and stayed to keep things running — for 40 days straight through,” he previously told employees.

Last month, Shell warned investors it anticipates booking up to $800 million in impairments in the first quarter due to the current depressed market environment.

The company revealed it anticipated first-quarter post-tax impairment charges to range between $400 million and $800 million, based on changes to the company’s oil price outlook for 2020.

Shell’s production guidance for its upstream business has been narrowed from an earlier prediction of 2.62 million to 2.78 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, to a new forecast range of 2.65 million to 2.72 million boepd.

Oil prices have crashed more than 60% from their January peaks, with the market rocked by the double impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and an oil price war breaking out between Saudi Arabia and Russia.