Oil companies address COVID-19 risks in North Slope operations
Oil companies operating in Alaska are taking steps to mitigate risks associated with the possibility of COVID-19 infections on the North Slope.
BP spokeswoman Megan Baldino has told Petroleum News that BP is instigating the screening of employees before they head to the Slope, using CDC screening guidelines, in particular temperature checks.
“The health and wellbeing of our employees is our highest priority,” Baldino said.
Bernard Looney, BP’s new CEO, issued a statement on March 13, outlining some of the steps that his company is taking in response to the virus pandemic.
“To protect our people, I have communicated to our employees that we are going to move to working remotely - except for those involved in, or supporting, critical operations,” Looney said. “We will have no large meetings and no travel.”
During a ConocoPhillips market update call on March 18, Matt Fox, the company’s chief operating officer, outlined steps that his company is taking to mitigate the virus risk at remote worksites, such as those on Alaska’s North Slope. The company will pre-check people embarking on flights to these locations, including taking their temperatures to check for fever, Fox said. The company is also asking people to complete questionnaires, asking questions such as where they have been recently and whether they have been in contact with anyone with a fever.
“We’ve reduced the number of people working in these locations down to a minimum manning level, so that we are minimizing exposure offshore or on the North Slope,” Fox said. “That allows us to clear more space with bed space so that, if necessary, we can have a quarantine available in these locations.”
Fox emphasized that ConocoPhillips has not yet experienced any COVID-19 cases at any of its remote locations, but that the company is well aware of the risks.
ConocoPhillips Alaska spokeswoman Natalie Lowman told Petroleum News March 19 that the afternoon of March 18 the company cancelled flights for regularly scheduled shift changes for two weeks. The company flies between Anchorage and Kuparuk, Lowman said, so the changes affect employees working at the Kuparuk and Alpine fields.
She forwarded a copy of what the company shared with employees and contractors the afternoon of March 18.
All business-critical personnel supporting ConocoPhillips Slope operations - contractor and ConocoPhillips employees - were asked to extend their shifts by two weeks. The company said it would be working to arrange transportation off the Slope for those unable to extend.
Non-essential personnel will leave the Slope at the end of their current shifts and be asked to work from home or placed on extended leave.
All workers who live or have traveled out of state and are scheduled to travel to the Slope are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks before the start of their next scheduled shift. Anchorage-based employees have been asked to work from home.