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Shell Evacuates Offshore Workers As Coronavirus Hits Gulf of Mexico Platform

Louisiana Offshore Injury Lawyer | Shell Offshore Workers Evacuated from Gulf of Mexico for Coronavirus

An outbreak of coronavirus has forced Royal Dutch Shell to evacuate nine workers from a single Gulf of Mexico platform in recent days.

6 of 9 Shell Offshore Workers Test Positive for COVID-19

The workers were airlifted one-by-one between May 23rd and May 27th, after one individual began exhibiting symptoms typical of COVID-19. According to Shell, six of the evacuated workers have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus and three have tested negative.

The company had apparently implemented a coronavirus testing program for all offshore personnel traveling to its platforms on May 20th, but the initiative  began when the evacuated workers were already aboard the unidentified facility.

Shell  operates 16 offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. While it’s not clear how many workers were aboard this particular faciity when the virus was detected, the company has since confirmed that its workforce has been reduced to minimum levels.

“Shell’s priority remains the safety and health of our people and the safe operations of all our businesses,” the company said in a statement. “We have been and will continue to take steps to protect all employees following guidance from the CDC and local public health officials while maintaining data privacy and individual health confidentiality.”

Offshore Drillers Struggle to Contain Coronavirus Outbreaks

According to the National Ocean Industries Association, about 100 coronavirus infections have been confirmed among offshore workers in the United States since the global pandemic began.  In March, the Offshore Operators Committee – an organization of energy companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico — issued a tip sheet for reducing the spread of COVID-19, suggesting operators:

  • Pre-screen before workers travel to platforms,
  • Clean oft-touched surfaces on the platform.
  • Plan for quarantine and specialized transport for any offshore workers who exhibit coronavirus symptoms while onboard.

Before implementing its mandatory pre-board testing policy, Shell had required workers to complete a health questionnaire prior to being flow to an offshore facility. The company had initially extended stays aboard offshore production platforms from 14 to 21 days, but has since extended stays to 28 days.

Despite these precautions, Shell has found itself among a handful of major oil companies, including Chevron Corp, ExxonMobil, and Total SA, struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States and elsewhere. While the Trump administration had reportedly considered mandated shutdowns in the Gulf of Mexico, both as a means of preventing coronavirus outbreaks and reducing the nation’s output amid collapsing oil prices, no such action was ultimately taken.

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Our Undefeated Offshore Injury Lawyers  continue to monitor the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on offshore workers and families across Louisiana and Texas, and will post updates as new information becomes available.

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