As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, its impact on the maritime industry has been felt especially keenly by the global shipping and cruise industries. However, offshore industries have been heavily impacted as well. For example, brent crude, a form of crude oil used to price most other oil on the market, is trading is at its lowest since 2014. Now, many analysts forecast prices well below breaking even for the offshore sector. Stock prices for offshore drilling companies such has Transocean have also dropped dramatically, reflecting hard economic times predicted ahead.
Concerns regarding viral infection among the workforce globally have created significant operational and logistical delays. CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation) recently announced that it will end “non-essential activity” at the UKCS Buzzard, Golden Eagle and Scott offshore fields, located in the North Sea, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus between platforms. Norwegian state-owned oil company Equinor also scaled back operations, delaying non-critical tasks and, importantly, training a specialized coronavirus response task force to “take forceful action to reduce risk, protect our business and operations and to ensure the long-term robustness of our company,” CEO Eldar Sætre said in a statement.
At least three North Sea fields have suspected or known cases of COVID-19 on board: Chrysador and Total, located in the UK North Sea, and Equinor, located off the coast of Norway. All cases are under isolation and protective quarantine measures implemented aboard the platforms, pending test kit confirmation and treatment.