Energy industry workers ill with coronavirus

The coronavirus is hitting the nation’s energy industry, directly and indirectly. Some in Oklahoma City and others around the country.

Oklahoma City’s Devon Energy took a direct hit this week when one of its employees in its headquarters in downtown tested positive for the coronavirus.

Company spokesman John Porretto said the employee is receiving medical treatment and remaining at home until recovery is complete.

“Our best wishes are with the employee, and we’re providing support as needed during treatment and recovery.”

Those who had close personal contact with the worker were notified by the company as the domino impact of the virus was felt by the company.

“We’re checking on their well-being and considering what’s best for each individual and for the health and safety of others. each will be required to work from home for at least 14 days.”

Devon’s corporate headquarters were closed March 12 until further notice.

Porretto said internal meetings are being conducted online and by phone.

The U.S. Department of Energy confirmed one of its employees was diagnosed with coronavirus. The employee had been based at DOE’s headquarters and was  put on personal leave on March 3 and later tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, the department ordered a deep-cleaning of the employee’s office and surrounding area.

One worker at the Environmental Protection Agency was also diagnosed with coronavirus and nine more were potentially exposed.

“To date, the agency has been notified of 10 potential COVID 19 cases nationwide,” stated a spokeswoman in an email. “Of these 10 cases, only one is presumed positive and is still awaiting CDC confirmation; the others turned out negative or are still pending.

A Wednesday night reported indicated an EPA office employee in Helena, Montana had received a “presumed positive” for the virus. Three workers in EPA’s Chicago office might have been exposed to the virus including one who experienced flu-like symptoms.

ConocoPhillips has canceled flights for hundreds of workers to the North Slope for the next two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The company is asking critical personnel who produce oil from the company’s North Slope fields to stay on for an extra multiweek rotation, ConocoPhillips said in a statement sent Tuesday to contractors and employees.

The statement said that effective immediately, “we are asking all business-critical North Slope personnel supporting ConocoPhillips operations (both contractor and ConocoPhillips employees) to extend their shift by two weeks.”

“All flights north for regularly scheduled shift changes have been canceled for the next two weeks,” the statement said. “We will be working to arrange transportation off the Slope for those who cannot extend their stay.

“Please note that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the North Slope at this time,” the statement said.