Workers stuck in Arctic sites as Russia acts to head off virus spread

Russia’s decision to isolate construction sites has detained thousands of construction workers in the Arctic for an indefinite period, the Barents Observer reports. 

Some 9,000 workers are being kept at an LNG site at Belokamenka near Murmansk, and 20,000 are stuck in Sabetta, in the Yamal Peninsula in western Siberia.

Many of the workers in both areas are employed by Novatek, Russia’s largest private natural gas supplier, which is engaged in a massive expansion of its LNG infrastructure to exploit Siberian and Arctic gas reserves (see Further reading).   

Although Russia is presently among the European countries least affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of cities and regions, including Moscow, Murmansk and Sochi, have tried to pre-empt its spread by closing shopping centres, parks and restaurants, and limiting flights.

As of yesterday, the federation had 1,534 confirmed cases and eight deaths, according to World Health Organisation figures.

According to the Barents Observer, entry and exit to Novatek’s site at Belokamenka can now be made only with special permission, and shift workers coming to the area are placed in quarantine in adjacent facilities for 10 days.

Another project affected is Gazprom Neft’s Novy Port in Yamal, one of the biggest of Russia’s Arctic oil projects. Here workers on remote field sites have been told to stay there for the next two months, and regular commercial flights have been suspended.

Image: Novatek’s existing Yamal plant (Novatek)

Further reading:

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News