UPDATE 2-Kazakhstan reduces work on Tengiz oil expansion due to virus

(Updates with Chevron)

ALMATY, April 14 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s biggest oil producer Tengizchevroil (TCO) has reduced some work on its $45 billion expansion project in the west of the country due to the coronavirus outbreak, the company said on Tuesday.

Kazakhstan has confirmed more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus infections, including a dozen people at a workers’ camp close to the Tengiz field.

Chevron Corp holds a 50% stake in TCO, with the rest divided between Exxon Mobil Corp, Russia’s LUKOIL and Kazakh state energy firm KazMunayGaz

“As a result of the confirmed COVID-19 cases among our contractor and subcontractor workforce, over the next several weeks... TCO will reduce activities and personnel to ensure their safety and to minimise the impact of the pandemic on our operations and construction activities,” the company said in a statement.

The company said that “only certain activities that are on the (expansion) project’s critical path will continue”.

“TCO notes that these measures have been implemented in order to protect the health and safety of the Tengiz workforce and are not related to current market conditions,” it also said.

A Chevron spokeswoman said critical work on the project - such as building of pipelines in Kazakhstan or construction of equipment in South Korea - continued as normal and it was only non-essential activities that had been temporarily reduced.

“We are fully committed to the project’s expansion,” the Chevron spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; additional reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Jason Neely, Jane Merriman and Marguerita Choy)