Texan Oil Companies Forced To Keep Staff Home As Second Wave Hits

By Irina Slav

Amid record-breaking additions to the new Covid-19 case count in Texas, oil companies in the state have suspended plans to return staff to offices, Reuters reports.

Health officials in the state reported a record-high number of newly diagnosed cases yesterday, at 5,551, with another 4,389 people hospitalized with the viral disease–also a record number.

In light of this new data, Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned that the state is facing a “massive outbreak”, and some restrictions may need to be implemented to slow the spread of the virus. Abbott was among the governors pushing for a quick reopening of states after the lockdown.

“There are some regions in the state of Texas that are running tight on hospital capacity that may necessitate a localized strategy to make sure that hospital beds will be available,” Governor Abbott said.

“We are looking at greater restrictions and some could be localized,” he also said, as quoted by local media.

The reopening in Texas started on May 1 and was planned in several phases. Businesses, too, returned to work in phases. These phases have now been delayed, with Halliburton saying it will delay its planned return of staff to offices by two weeks, while Chevron has delayed the staff’s return to work until further notice. Only a small number of Chevron’s staff work at its offices in Houston and San Ramon, Reuters reported.

Exxon has not yet revised its return-to-work plans, with less than 50 percent of staff to work at its Houston-area offices.

ConocoPhillips has also not yet made changes to its plans but will make them if necessary, according to a spokesperson who spoke to Reuters.

The Texas oil industry shed a record 26,300 jobs in April alone, at the height of the pandemic-caused crisis, leaving about 192,600 people employed in the industry, which, the Houston Chronicle said, was the lowest employment number in Texas oil and gas since 2016, at the height of the previous oil price crisis.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com