Dozens of coronavirus cases on Brazil’s offshore oil rigs

There have been 126 confirmed cases of coronavirus among oil and gas workers in Brazil, including 74 people who were recently on offshore oil platforms, national regulator ANP has said

The figures revealed an outbreak far worse than previously thought, reported Reuters. The regulator said that there were another 897 suspected cases of coronavirus in the industry.

There have been widespread fears of outbreaks of Covid-19 in the offshore oil industry, where employees often work, sleep and eat in close quarters. However, to day, although isolated cases have been reported in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, the impact in Brazil looks to be the most significant.

As yet the impact on production in Brazil has been limited, although skeletal staffing is already stalling development in some of the world’s most promising offshore oil fields.

An internal document from state-run oil firm Petrobras that was, seen by Reuters showed that Petrobras had recorded 59 suspected coronavirus cases and 19 confirmed cases last week among employees and subcontractors in one deep-sea the Santos Basin oil production region. All 19 confirmed cases were located on one ship operated by Japanese oil services firm Modec Inc, according to the document. The suspected cases were spread among a dozen offshore and nearby coastal facilities, including 11 suspected cases at a platform in the Lula oilfield.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA would not confirm the numbers, but said that it had taken stringent measures to protect offshore workers from the virus. These measure include a seven-day quarantine and monitoring periods before they embark, as well as evacuation of any offshore workers with respiratory issues, whether or not they appear to be coronavirus-related.

Modec said that it had quickly evacuated all employees after a worker was determined to have the coronavirus, and that it had adopted a series of measures to ensure worker security, including testing all workers before they go aboard.