Tengiz oil field is facing the threat of a forced shutdown if the spread of COVID-19 gets out of control and the number of infections rises. One-third of Kazakhstani oil is produced at the Tengiz field.
After a visit to the Atyrau region, a government committee approved a work plan and schedule for the field aimed to lower the coronavirus infection rate at Tengiz. According to Chief Sanitary Inspector of Kazakhstan Aizhan Esmagambetova, the operating company, Tengizchevroil, must ensure the plan is implemented. Otherwise, the number of infected could rise, leading to a forced shutdown of the oil field.
Tengizchevroil said that the company already took several additional measures which should decrease the risk of COVID-19 spreading and provide for smooth operation at the Tengiz field. From March to May, the company evacuated more than 18,000 people from the site. That made it possible to ensure isolation and social distancing necessary to protect the health of personnel who are still working at Tengiz, according to Tengizchevroil’s government relations and public affairs officer Rzabek Artygaliev.
The remaining field staff has been divided into operative groups, so if one member of a group gets infected, another group could get to the stage to continue that work without halting production. Strict measures have been introduced to ensure social distancing, using masks and observing personal hygiene rules. Tengizchevroil is going to terminate employment contracts with workers who fail to follow those requirements. The security service of the company monitors the implementation of the rules in conjunction with the police.
As of May 25, there have been more than 8,000 COVID-19 tests performed at Tengiz.
“That number is several times higher than the number of tests per head of the population in Kazakhstan on average,” Artygaliev said.
He notes that identifying the infected people, including those without symptoms, has impacted the statistics which show an increase in the number of infected. By May 26 there have been 787 COVID-19 cases registered at Tengiz. An infectious disease hospital has been opened where patients with mild and asymptomatic infections are treated.
In the first quarter, the output of the oil field reached 7.6 million metric tons of oil, which is slightly higher than in last year’s first quarter. The Future Growth Project has been completed by 77%. Critical works on this project are ongoing. There are 420 contracting entities currently operating at Tengiz, which employ 21,000 people. This figure may decrease because Tengizchevroil is considering further demobilization of the staff. Those who are staying in the field and working overtime will be paid 1.5 times their regular salary. Those who can’t start their shifts due to the quarantine will be paid in full.
Tengizchevroil is prepared to terminate agreements with contracting entities that aren’t observing quarantine measures.