Oil Industry Joins The Fight Against Coronavirus

Ventilators from Tesla. Hand sanitizer from Anheuser Busch and fellow distillers. Face masks from General Motors. It sounds like something out of a science fiction—or possibly parody—novel, but it is, in fact, our new reality: the reality where businesses change to survive and help fight the pandemic that shook the world. And oil and gas players are joining the effort. Call it what you will — an attempt to regain credibility in the public eye, a way to take advantage of a bad situation, or simply doing the only reasonable thing to do in the circumstances, but oil and gas majors are indeed trying to help.

Shell, for example, said last month that it was diverting resources to the increased production of isopropyl alcohol, which is the primary ingredient in hand sanitizers. It also said it would make 2.5 million liters of the ingredient freely available to the healthcare sector in the Netherlands.

The supermajor is also offering free food and drink to healthcare professionals at 15,000 retail outlets globally as well as to truck drivers and delivery personnel “who are vital to maintaining supplies.”

Total, for its part, has pledged gasoline vouchers worth $54.2 million (50 million euro) to French hospitals for their workers’ travel to fight the virus, as well as donations to the Pasteur Institute and other research facilities.

“In this period of crisis, Total’s teams remain mobilized to enable French people to make all their necessary travel arrangements. With its nationwide network, Total is working alongside those who are fighting the epidemic everywhere. Which is why the Group has decided to make this practical gesture of support for our hospital staff, who are working to ensure the health of patients,” CEO Patrick Pouyanne said.

It is, however, worth mentioning those that have joined the anti-virus effort, because most oil and gas businesses have their hands full with just surviving. First, they slashed their spending plans. Then they shelved share buybacks. The next step will be the start of layoffs unless the oil price situation improves sharply and quickly.

Last updated on Sun. April 5, 2020.

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