North Slope operators are moving aggressively to protect critical field workers from COVID 19 coronavirus infection, with ConocoPhillips suspending crew rotation flights from Anchorage to the Kuparuk and Alpine fields for two weeks.
As of Thursday BP is still operating flights to Prudhoe Bay, but protective measures to shield workers from infection are being taken, the company said.
“All flights north for scheduled shift changes have been cancelled for the next two weeks. The company will be working to arrange transportation off the slope for those who cannot extend their stay,” ConocoPhillips said in a statement sent to employees and contractors.
BP spokeswoman Meg Baldino said her company has made no change yet in crew-rotation flights to Prudhoe Bay, where BP is field operator, but is conducting health screenings as employees board flight, and is considering other options.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and contractors is our highest priority. In this fast-moving global pandemic, we are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and the guidance offered by the World Health Organization, U.S. Center for Disease Control and local health departments,” BP said in a statement.
In its statement, ConocoPhillips said, “All non-essential personnel will leave the North Slope at the end of their current shift and asked to work from home or placed on extended leave until further notice, as appropriate.”
“The company will be working to arrange transportation off the Slope for those who cannot extend their stay. All Anchorage based employees have been encouraged to work from home unless their job requires they come into the office,” the statement said.
ConocoPhillips has also asked all workers who live or have traveled out of state and are scheduled to travel to the North Slope to self-quarantine for two weeks before the start of their next scheduled shift.
By self-quarantine, the company said it means that workers should not travel outside of Alaska and should comply with all measures issued by the CDC and State of Alaska. “If circumstances change, the company may require stricter self-quarantine measures,” ConocoPhillips said.
North Slope field workers are mostly on a two-week-in, two-week-off schedule. While about 60 percent of company and contractor employees live in Anchorage and other southcentral Alaska communities, the other 40 percent live in the Lower 48 states including regions like the Pacific Northwest where COVID-19 infections have been high, according to data from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
So far Alaska has 12 infections, as of Thursday March 19.