Aker Solutions has reportedly issued a warning of lay-offs to all of its 6000 employees in Norway, while both itself and compatriot contractor Kvaerner have sent home hundreds of foreign contracted staff amid the coronavirus crisis.

Contractors are taking drastic salvage action as the global pandemic threatens exploration and production activity amid a plunge in oil prices after Opec powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Russia failed to agree on output cuts in response to the crisis.

Aker Solutions has issued notice of lay-offs to all of its Norway employees, with the number to be laid off yet to be determined, and has told 700 workers at its Egersund yard hired in from overseas to return to their home countries, according to Stavanger Aftenblad. The company has a total of around 2000 contracted workers in Norway.

Similarly, affiliate contractor Kvaerner, which is also owned by the Aker group, is sending home a total of 1220 foreign contracted workers from its Stord and Verdal yards, according to Sysla.no.

Several hundred workers at contractor Aibel were also reported by the publication to be in quarantine, having recently returned to Norway from abroad, though it has not yet taken a decision on possible lay-offs.

It follows stringent measures implemented late last week by the Oslo government to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Norway that have resulted in the country effectively closing its borders to foreigners travelling from overseas and imposing strict 14-day quarantine requirements on those that have travelled abroad since the end of February.

A spokeswoman for Aker Solutions confirmed to Upstream that it had notified all of its employees in Norway of possible lay-offs as the virus meant it “would be unable to maintain its activity level”.

“We do not yet know how many will be laid off,” she said.

The company decided, in the light of the government measures, to demobilise all foreign workers at the Egersund yard.

“It was not defensible to house hundreds of workers in quarantine in temporary accommodation over an extended period and we therefore believe it was better for all parties that they travelled home instead,” the spokeswoman explained.

Major operator Equinor could reduce its activity off Norway amid a coronavirus scare at several of its facilities, with its Martin Linge platform downmanned after a virus case was confirmed, and this is set to hit local contractors.

A survey carried out by Norway’s business confederation NHO showed that eight out of 10 companies across all sectors are now considering lay-offs due to the economic impact of the virus.

Energy-related stocks were again severely hit on the Oslo bourse on Monday amid a near 7% fall in the overall stockmarket index at the start of trading, with Aker Solutions’ shares dropping 14.3%, Kvaerner 7.9% and Borr Drilling as much as 21%.

The government meanwhile announced at the weekend a Nkr100 billion ($9.85 billion) support package for small and medium-sized companies, involving guarantees and loan arrangements.

An initial Nkr6.5 billion of measures that was announced late last week, mainly covering compensation for laid-off workers, has now been expanded and gained parliamentary approval on Monday.