Kazakhstan may have to halt Tengiz oilfield over coronavirus - doctor
NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield may have to halt work if management and local authorities fail to curb the spread of the coronavirus cases among workers, Kazakhstan's chief sanitary doctor said on Wednesday. There have been 935 cases of COVID-19 reported among Tengiz workers, out of the country's total of 6,969 cases, government data showed.
NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield may have to halt work if management and local authorities fail to curb the spread of the coronavirus cases among workers, Kazakhstan's chief sanitary doctor said on Wednesday.
There have been 935 cases of COVID-19 reported among Tengiz workers, out of the country's total of 6,969 cases, government data showed.
The field employs thousands of workers many of whom live in nearby camps and the local outbreak initially spread at one of those camps. A government commission has adopted a special plan to curb the virus' spread.
"At the moment, it is necessary to ensure control over the implementation of this plan, otherwise it may lead to growth in the number of cases, isolation and natural shutdown of the company or forced shutdown of the company," the chief sanitary doctor Aizhan Yesmagambetova told a briefing.
Kazakhstan's biggest oil producer, Chevron-led Tengizchevroil (TCO), said on Wednesday it was taking robust measures to safeguard operations.
"We have implemented many safeguards designed to protect our people and our business, including our production operations in Tengiz, from COVID-19," Chevron spokeswoman Sally Jones said.
TCO has compartmentalised critical personnel into separate "pods", Jones said.
"This 'podding' strategy prevents close contact between groups and workers and means that in the event of any virus transmission into one team of essential personnel, another team of essential personnel is ready to replace them and continue work that is integral to keep our production running."
Tengiz accounts for a third of Kazakhstan's oil output. Exxon Mobil, Russia's LUKOIL and Kazakh state energy firm KazMunayGaz also have stakes in TCO.
Kazakhstan has started relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions, but a spike in cases among Tengiz workers has drawn the attention of the government leading to the introduction of its special plan.
TCO said: "Currently, TCO production continues uninterrupted and we remain focused on maintaining safe and reliable operations." TCO produced 10.2 million tonnes of oil in January-April, a 3% increase year on year.
The venture has reduced the number of its own and contractors' staff at the site and reduced work on a $45 billion expansion project to curb the outbreak.
The company said it had developed COVID-19 testing to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus. A hospital has been established in Tengiz to handle mild and asymptomatic cases.
(Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Additional reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva in Almaty; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Jason Neely)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.