MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shell continues to experience COVID-19 disruption at one of its main North Sea development projects, the revamp of the Shearwater gas and condensate hub, with evacuation plans underway for 20 people tested positive and a further 98 close contacts, reported S&P Global with reference to a source close to the situation.
Separately, industry group Oil & Gas UK said it was seeking a relaxation of rules on self-isolation for offshore workers deemed to have been in close contact with those tested positive for COVID-19, in order to ensure the efficiency of operations, while continuing to prioritize health and safety.
Shell's Shearwater project, intended to incorporate new fields and redirect gas flows to St Fergus on the Scottish coast and nearby petrochemical facilities, has been buffeted by a coronavirus upsurge since late June that threatens to delay completion of a current shutdown of the facility, due for completion mid- to late July.
The overall Shearwater project was already delayed by the pandemic, with startup originally scheduled for 2020.
The Shearwater area fields, along with TotalEnergies' nearby Elgin-Franklin complex, are predominantly gas, but send significant volumes of light oil or condensate through the UK's main crude artery, the Forties pipeline. A section of the Forties route that handles oil from Elgin-Franklin and Shearwater is currently shutdown for a protracted maintenance overhaul.
Regarding the latest infection situation at Shearwater, the source close to the situation said all those concerned "have been flown to shore, or are isolating while waiting to return to shore". Shell did not comment.
The UK's North Sea oil and gas industry typically produces around 1 million b/d of oil, or around 1% of the global market, while meeting about half the country's gas needs.
However, the problems for Shell come as UK oil and gas output has plunged due to operators catching up on maintenance and development work postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic.
Infection concerns have abated, partly, the industry says, due to strict COVID-19 testing and protocols, and offshore workforce numbers are now significantly higher than last year - at 10,678 for the week commencing June 28, according to Oil & Gas UK.
As MRC informed before, Royal Dutch Shell plans to reduce its refining and chemicals portfolio by more than half, it said in July 2020 without giving a precise timeframe. The move is part of the Anglo-Dutch company's plan to shrink its oil and gas business and expand its renewables and power division to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sharply by 2050.
Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 744,130 tonnes in the first four month of 2021, up by 4% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, PP deliveries to the Russian market were 523,900 tonnes in January-April 2021, up by 55% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whereas shipments of PP random copolymers decreased.
Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.