Covid-19 hits offshore oil rig

Norway-based energy firm Equinor has reported the oil industry’s first coronavirus infection on an offshore installation.

The company reported on Wednesday March 11th that a worker was in isolation on the Martin Linge oil and gas platform off Norway, where production was due to start at the end of this year, the company said. The company was also waiting for test results from two other people, it said.

Equinor said that it would cut activity at the field, but personnel would remain at installations, while workers would reduce meetings and sit further apart in canteens.

There are 776 people working on the project, spread across three installations, Martin Linge, the Maersk Intrepid drilling rig and the Floatel Endurance accommodation rig.

Investment bank Stifel said that offshore oil installations, which account for about a quarter of total global oil output, were as vulnerable to the epidemic as cruise ships.

Stifel said that “our conversations with industry suggest screening measures are being deployed, but, as with airports, these are likely to be only moderately effective”.

Equinor said it had taken steps before the diagnosis, including asking employees and suppliers to avoid visiting its office or remaining onshore for at least 14 days if they had previously travelled to high-risk areas, such as China or Italy.

The infected person had recently been to Austria, arrived on the Martin Linge platform on March 4th and was isolated five days later.

If offshore oil output was cut due to coronavirus by at least 10% from around 27m bpd it would have a bigger impact on global supply than the failed OPEC-Russia deal to cut output by 1.5m bpd, Stifel said.