Even though operations are located in the North Sea, several hundred kilometers off the western Danish coast, there is no guarantee that rig workers will be spared from the risk of coronavirus infection, Total tells EnergyWatch.
"Total E&P Denmark has a very low number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, and the few affected persons are currently in quarantine," the company writes.
The French supermajor's Danish filial declines to elaborate further on its staff's contagion status and home quarantine arrangements.
EnergyWatch has previously reported that Total has has sent employees into home quarantine after returning from vacations in critically impacted areas.
"During this challenging period with the coronavirus that's affecting everyone's daily lives, our most important priority is to continue protecting our labor force, both on land and offshore, while at the same time maintaining stable and safe operations," Total writes.
Total E&P Denmark Managing Director Patrick Gilly says the company has "implemented extensive measures to protect our personnel and secure the business' continuity."
This mainly entails new efforts applied to offshore rigs.
Facing tough task
First and foremost, Total has suspended all helicopter traffic to and from the active fields, and deployed personnel have been asked to remain offshore. This week, Total is rotating its rig staff.
"Such a change requires careful planning and close cooperation with our staff accommodation suppliers to ensure that the rotation occurs safely with all precautions in place so no one is exposed to contagion," Total writes to EnergyWatch.
Moreover, Total has introduced stricter guidelines to prevent the next batch of employees going offshore from bringing the contagion with them. Before leaving, personnel will have to fill out a questionnaire at the Esbjerg airport, just as they must speak with and be screened by Total’s health staff.
On the offshore platforms, the rules have been tightened, increasing focus on keeping employees apart to reduce contagion risk. That is why they are now arranged differently in the cafeteria, just as the various worker groups are not allowed to mingle.
Furthermore, the DUC operator has minimized the number of employees on its North Sea platforms, so that now only those performing the most critical tasks are allowed to be present.
Before the new guidelines were implemented, Total had already decided to cancel all major meetings and send onshore office staff home to work from there to the greatest possible extent.
Total still has no expectation for DUC’s oil and gas output to be affected by the situation.
Nevertheless, it is now clear that the coronavirus does not merely pose a health risk to Total, but also a financial one.
On Friday, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné called a meeting for employees in Paris, where he presented a new, downgraded investment strategy for the oil giant.
Both the spread of the coronavirus and the dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia has more than halved the oil price since New Year’s, which is why Total reduced its net investment budget for the current year to less than USD 15 million.
At the same time, Total is to cut USD 800 million off its operating costs, just as the company is dropping a planned share buyback program of USD 2 billion.
Total still declines to comment on how the plan may affect the company’s business in the Danish sector.
(This article was provided by our sister media, EnergyWatch)
English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen & Jonas Sahl Jørgensen