Oilsands companies focusing on essential work only as Omicron sweeps country

CALGARY – Alberta’s oilsands are operating with critical staff only as the highly contagious Omicron variant sweeps the country.

It’s unclear how many oilsands workers are currently sick with COVID-19.

Oil Sands Community Alliance executive director Perry Berkenpas declined to give a number, though he says case counts aren’t any worse than previous waves.

Alberta’s oilsands camps were the source of some of the country’s largest outbreaks in the early days of the pandemic and again in the spring of 2021, when thousands of workers got sick.

Berkenpas says oilsands companies are enforcing work-from-home orders for all staff who don’t need to be on site. Facilities are operating with 40 to 65 per cent fewer people than normal.

He says companies are currently able to keep day-to-day operations running, but that production could be impacted in the weeks and months to come, depending on the trajectory of the virus.

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