The Chevron-led operator of the Tengiz oilfield development project in Kazakhstan, Tengizchevroil, reintroduced coronavirus-related restrictions just days after thousands of additional workers were mobilised for major on-site maintenance works.

The company said that it halted “remobilisation and [the] shift of non-essential personnel”, as well as incoming short-term trips to the field in an attempt to slow the rate of new coronavirus infections, from 9 August.

Never miss a must-read story
Get notified when we publish articles from your selected sectors, businesses or journalists.

On 1 August, the operator stopped operations of a major gas processing facility and sour gas reinjection compressors on the field for maintenance that is scheduled to last until 15 September.

These facilities are responsible for a major share of the field’s total oil production that is anticipated to decline to 8.7 million barrels in August, compared with 17.2 million barrels in July.

Despite local concerns, Tengizchevroil said that the restrictions will not apply to workers and builders who were brought to the field for the maintenance job.

Also excluded are contractor and subcontractor personnel who are involved in building the new facilities, known as the Wellhead Pressure Management Project and Future Growth Project, which are aimed at increasing Tengiz’ output, the operator added.

Covid-19 impact detailed

Chevron said in its latest results presentation that the Wellhead Pressure Management Project is set to become operational by mid-2023, with the Future Growth Project facilities set to be up and running between late 2023 and mid-2024.

Coronavirus issues and disputes over higher than planned costs have already led to a pushback in deadlines earlier this year.

Chevron has acknowledged that the Tengiz expansion project is “at peak workforce” and the operator’s “primary focus is to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, with vaccinations, testing and isolation protocols to enable workforce productivity”.

According to the US supermajor, the cost target for the expansion project remains at $45.2 billion, as budgeting efforts and favourable exchange rates offset an estimated $1.9 billion-worth of incremental costs associated with dealing with Covid-19 challenges.

These incremental costs include mitigation efforts, demobilisation and remobilisation costs, as well as the expected schedule extension, the company said.

Rising cases

Earlier this month, authorities of the Atyrau region in Kazakhstan that hosts the Tengiz field, reported that almost 93% of the personnel employed on-site have been vaccinated against coronavirus, using either Russian-made or locally produced vaccines.

On Tuesday, authorities reported 562 new cases of Covid-19 in the Atyrau region, of which 97 were workers at the Tengiz field.

A day earlier, one week since the introduction of entry restrictions, the number of new cases on the field was reported at 79.