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Oil Giant Sends London Staff Home Over Coronavirus Fears

U.S. oil supermajor Chevron has told its 300 staff in its London office to work from home after an employee reported flu symptoms after returning from a trip, the Financial Times reports, quoting sources.

The U.S. oil company sent on Tuesday all employees, including traders, analysts, and office staff, at its London office in the busy business district Canary Wharf to work from home until the test results of the employee become known.

Chevron has said that it would “continue to monitor the situation very closely, utilising the guidance of international and local health authorities,” according to a statement cited by FT.

Chevron has sent staff to work from home as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of potential exposure to the coronavirus, the U.S. supermajor said.  

In the UK, 13 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Tuesday, including four cases of infected Britons from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The UK authorities advise all travelers returning from Asia, Iran, and northern Italy to self-isolate and stay indoors if they develop symptoms. For travelers returning from Iran, the lockdown areas in northern Italy, the Hubei province in China, and the specially designated zones in South Korea, the UK government advises people to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if they do not show flu-like symptoms.

The coronavirus outbreak is spreading to international energy events, and the International Petroleum Week in London this week is being held regularly, but many participants have canceled receptions and events due to the outbreak. Major international oil traders and refiners have canceled networking events, sources told Reuters last week.

The spread of the coronavirus outside China and Asia has become a major concern for the equity and oil markets in recent days, with oil prices set for a fourth consecutive day of losses early on Wednesday and WTI Crude trading below $50 a barrel at $49.50 as of 7:00 a.m. EST.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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