Aug 23 (Reuters) – U.S. energy companies are moving to require that employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations as infection rates rise across the United States and energy workers, according to health surveys, remain among those most reluctant to get inoculations.
Calls to require vaccinations for employees who work closely together in oilfield and refinery operations come as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
The second-largest U.S. oil producer, Chevron Corp, and refiner Valero Energy Corp will require jabs for certain field workers or new workers. Top oilfield services firm Schlumberger said last week some customers are requesting that its staff be vaccinated or tested before arriving on job sites.
“We continuously review our internal policies and procedures to ensure that we can meet our customers’ needs while prioritizing the health and safety of all our employees,” a Schlumberger spokeswoman said in an email.
San Antonio-based Valero this month became the first U.S. refiner to require vaccinations as a condition of employment for new workers at Texas and Louisiana oil refineries.
Oil producer Hess also said it will require workers at its U.S. Gulf of Mexico operations to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. In a statement, the company pointed to the “highly infectious nature” of the Delta variant and rising number of COVID-19 cases in the United States
Energy and construction workers have some of the lowest vaccine uptake rates, according to an online survey led by Wendy King, an associate epidemiology professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Some 45% of extraction and construction workers said they were hesitant to get the vaccine, versus just 7.3% in the computer and mathematical professions, the May survey showed.
Chevron’s mandate will cover offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico, some onshore support staff, expatriates and employees who travel internationally, a spokeswoman said in an email.
Earlier this month, Chevron postponed a full return of employees in California and Texas to offices because of a resurgence in coronavirus cases related to the fast-spreading Delta variant.
(Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Steve Orlofsky)