Coronavirus outbreaks have swept through several oil, gas and mining sites in Russia and Kazakhstan, where major international firms from Total to Chevron and local giants like Gazprom are operating.
Thousands have been infected at several sites and at least two have died, as operators scramble to contain the disease’s deadly spread.
Workers live in crowded conditions, ideal for the spread of the virus, and many of the sites are remote — some reachable only by air.
Here is what we know about the outbreaks at several of the sites, the region’s new virus hotbeds.
– Belokamenka shipyard –
Two of the sites with major outbreaks are run by Russia’s second largest natural gas company, Novatek.
Belokamenka in the Arctic Murmansk region is a construction site where more than 10,000 workers are building a shipyard for LNG production facilities.
Authorities in Russia say 2,259 coronavirus cases have been identified there, while the entire Murmansk region has only 575 other cases.
Seven people have died in the region, including a woman who was working at the construction site.
A cruise ship with a capacity of 2,500 passengers called the Princess Anastasia has docked at the site to isolate healthy workers, and a mobile hospital has been built to treat the sick.
Construction work is still continuing at the site linked to the huge Arctic LNG 2, which involves several partners, including France’s Total.
– Sabetta LNG plant –
On the Yamal Peninsula in the Siberian Arctic, 1,335 out of 1,989 confirmed cases have been people infected at numerous oil and gas extraction sites, according to authorities.
One major site is Yamal LNG, a huge Novatek plant at Sabetta which employs around 30,000 people.
In late April, the airport which provides the only access to Sabetta was closed by the authorities to stop the virus spreading.
In an infectious diseases hospital in Novy Urengoi, the region’s largest town, officials say 70 percent of beds are occupied by gas workers including from a huge gasfield operated by energy giant Gazprom.
– Chayanda field –
The Chayanda gas deposit in Yakutia is operated by state-owned gas giant Gazprom. After nearly 10,000 people working there were tested, about a third turned out to be infected, officials said in early May.
The emergencies ministry delivered a mobile hospital to the site after workers staged several protests over work and sanitation conditions.
– Olimpiada gold mine –
A giant mine owned by Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus, is also badly hit by the virus.
One worker has died from the illness and almost 1,200 cases have been confirmed.
Russia sent in troops who built a tent camp to quarantine up to 2,000 miners to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Olimpiada is one of the world’s largest mines with three extraction sites.
– Tengiz oilfield –
In Russia’s neighbour Kazakhstan, nearly a thousand cases out of the national total of 7,957 have been at the country’s main oilfield Tengiz.
If the number of infections grow, the government could be forced to shut down the site, the country’s chief sanitary doctor said this week.
The massive gas field, 50-percent controlled by US firm Chevron, produces a third of Kazakhstan’s annual output.
A shutdown would be disastrous for an economy dependent on crude exports and already hit by the plunge in oil prices amid a global economic crisis fuelled by the pandemic.