Equinor Suspends Flights to Three Fields Pending COVID-19 Test Results

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Published Mar 10, 2020 2:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian oil major Equinor has suspended helicopter flights to three of its most important offshore facilities pending the results of coronavirus tests administered for offshore workers. 

Flights have been temporarily cut for platforms at the Oseberg, Gullfaks and Martin Linge fields, the company confirmed to two media outlets on Tuesday. Production operations at Oseberg and Gullfaks have not been interrupted; Martin Linge is a new platform and is not yet online. 

The city of Stavanger is a hub for helicopter flights for Norway's offshore continental shelf, and the surrounding county of Rogaland currently has the largest per-capita coronavirus concentration in Norway. 277 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Norway to date, and the count is currently at about 110,000 cases worldwide. 

In the UK, industry association UK Oil and Gas has asked workers not to travel to offshore platforms if they have recently visited high-risk areas, like certain parts of China, Italy, South Korea and Iran. Even those who have visited areas with lower risk levels (like Japan) should self-isolate, OGUK health and safety director Trevor Stapleton told BBC. 

Coronavirus hits offshore firms' valuations

With demand for oil down due to the epidemic, and with Saudi Arabia and Russia both threatening to flood the market with low-cost crude, the Brent crude benchmark has fallen to lows last seen during the 2014-16 oil market crash. Equinor has long been the most valuable energy company in Scandinavia, but on Monday, its stock price plummeted 18 percent over concerns about falling oil prices. 

In a symbolic measure, the market value of offshore wind and renewable power company Orsted surpassed that of Equinor at the day's end, $45 billion to $42 billion - the first time that this has occurred.