EghtesadOnline: A strong wave of coronavirus resurgence in the southern oil province of Khuzestan has not hampered crude production, the National Iranian Oil Company's deputy managing director for planning said Friday.
"On-shore and off-shore oil platforms are operating normally and the situation on decks are monitored regularly," Karim Zobeidi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The number of infected cases with the communicable disease Covid-19 has been soaring in the province in the past few days due to ignoring social distancing rules andn the recent easing of lockdowns.
Approximately 1,000 people catch the new disease on a daily basis in Iran, half in Khuzestan Province. According to the Health Ministry, less than 40% of businesses in Ahvaz, the provincial capital, had observed health protocols before the virus resurfaced.
Cose to 2.2 million barrels of crude is produced in Iran every day, of which 85% comes from southern regions and further spread of the contagious disease could seriously undermine production and supply chain, the senior official added.
“The dire circumstances in Khuzestan has forced oil and gas companies’ health, safety and environment (HSE) departments to impose stricter health protocols.”
A positive coronavirus case on a rig could spread quickly among workers and have a lethal impact on production, he warned.
Zobeidi asserted that work on oilfields is normal, but non-critical tasks have been put on hold.
“Production and delivery of crude and natural gas to refineries continues without interruption,” he said.
He did not deny that covid had forced major oil and gas firms ( South Pars Gas Complex in Pars Special Energy/Economic Zone in Assaluyeh, Bushehr Province, Iran Oil Terminals Company, Arvandan Oil and Gas Company, Iranian Offshore Oil Company and Karoun Oil and Gas Production Company -- all subsidiaries of NIOC) to slow operations.
Referring to other measures, he said the National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) is not alone in enforcing travel restrictions. The Iranian Central Oil Fields Company and Khazar Exploration and Production Company were among the first to announce travel restrictions for their workers, and others have told them to defer travel as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Downstream operators are upgrading their systems and have adopted flexible routines. Oil and gas companies in south Iran earlier said the health and safety of workers remains a major priority as the disease continues to take a heavy toll on most countries devastating economies in the process.
No cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed on off-shore installation following tests of workers on rigs managed by NISOC and the company will end "non-essential work" at offshore fields to reduce the risk of contagion on platforms.
The health of employees, their families and the communities in the vicinity of oil pipelines and oilfields are important. “We are happy to be able to continue supporting our workers as we get together to overcome this difficult situation.”
Iran has confirmed over 114,500 cases of infection with the respiratory illness, with almost 6,900 reported having lost their lives by Friday afternoon.
Safety begins at home, and companies are obliged to stick to protocols to keep workers safe. Social distancing measures have led to massive staff cuts at offshore installations across the globe.
Worldwide infections crossed 4.5 million on Friday and the tally of death neared 303,000, as many countries have begun to relax quarantine measures to revive their economies. WHO officials, however, warned on Thursday that the virus “may never go away”.