COVID-19 response

Report Jan. 5, 2021

In this article

COVID-19 response

As a large, multinational corporation with operations in nearly 50 countries worldwide, ExxonMobil was well positioned to offer assistance to communities around the world when the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly began spreading in early 2020. At the same time, it was important for us to keep our employees and contractors safe, while also continuing to ensure we were providing essential energy and chemical products.

The men and women of ExxonMobil responded, playing an important role in the global effort to combat the virus. We leveraged our leadership in technology and manufacturing, coupled with our culture of ingenuity and care for our people and the communities where we work.

Protecting our workforce's health and safety while maintaining critical operations

On our offshore platforms, in our refineries, at our lubes and chemical plants and throughout our facilities worldwide, our employees and contractors maintained critical operations in a safe manner. 

In the earliest days of the pandemic, we activated emergency response teams and implemented business continuity plans, building on lessons learned from previous pandemics such as SARS and Ebola. ExxonMobil has comprehensive procedures and processes that we activate to respond to emergency events.

Certain aspects of our operations function 24/7. The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique and challenging circumstances, since some operations entail working and living in close proximity to others. Many of our employees and contractors spent months at work, quarantined and isolated from their families, in order to deliver the energy and products that are essential to society. At our offshore facilities, we worked with local governments as needed to manage rotational crew changes safely, including chartering flights while international airports remained closed.

Our preventive and mitigation safeguards, combined with coordinated internal communications, helped protect the health and safety of our workers and their dependents. Enhanced cleaning and distancing protocols were put in place at offices and facilities, and additional personal protective equipment was provided to employees. We continued to refine these measures in consultation with internal and external health experts as new information about the virus became available.

To address the personal needs of employees, we deployed our workplace flexibility programs, childcare and elder care referral services, school-transition support and peer-to-peer connection networks.

We also sought to help our customers at Exxon-, Mobil- and Esso-branded service stations. For example, in the United States and Canada, we advised our wholesalers, retailers and their service station personnel on more frequent cleaning and sanitizing of sites – from fuel nozzles to store countertops to door handles. Further, we encouraged consumers to use mobile payment options through our Exxon Mobil Rewards+™ app to reduce contact with surfaces at the pumps. 

Supporting emergency responders and medical personnel

By mid-April 2020, the need for medical masks, hospital gowns and other medical equipment and packaging had increased significantly. We answered this demand by increasing our manufacturing capability of specialized polypropylene at facilities in Louisiana, Texas and Singapore to enable production of hundreds of millions of masks and tens of millions of gowns each month.

At the same time, we boosted production and supply of isopropyl alcohol – a key ingredient in many disinfectant products – to enable production of millions of bottles of hand sanitizer. We provided thousands of gallons of isopropyl alcohol to make urgently needed disinfectant for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to protect its officers and passengers in airports across the United States. We also answered a request from New York state officials who needed large quantities of isopropyl alcohol to make hand sanitizer for emergency responders, primary care health professionals, senior health centers and others. We made similar donations of isopropyl alcohol and specialty polypropylene and polyethylene in other countries.

We did our best to meet growing demand from the private sector as well. For example, we provided isopropyl alcohol to E.T. Browne, a small, family-owned business best known for its Palmer’s® personal care products, when it decided to repurpose its Pennsylvania factory to make medical-grade hand sanitizer for the U.S. military and medical first responders. 

In late April, we went beyond production by temporarily reconfiguring manufacturing operations at our Louisiana facilities to enable us to produce, blend, package and distribute hand sanitizer. The Federal Emergency Management Agency distributed these supplies amongst organizations to support COVID-19 first responders across the United States. 

Additionally, we deployed our technical and logistical expertise to help solve problems associated with shortages of personal protective equipment, which typically can only be used for short periods before having to be replaced. We collaborated with the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and contributed technical and product application expertise to help support the development of masks and face shields to protect first responders, medical caregivers and the general public in their return to work.  

Helping our communities

We complemented these efforts by helping our local communities.

In the greater Houston area – home to more than 10,000 ExxonMobil personnel – we supported food banks, hospitals, police and firefighters. We also partnered with the Texas Restaurant Association to support hard-hit, local restaurants prepare thousands of meals for donation to frontline workers.

In the Permian region in West Texas and New Mexico, we provided assistance to local food banks, as well as to the Carlsbad, New Mexico, Municipal School District to support technology improvements for online education. Similar efforts were undertaken in communities across the United States where ExxonMobil employees live and work.

Outside of the United States, many affiliates and employees around the world contributed money, technical equipment, fuel, isopropyl alcohol, specialty polypropylene and logistics assistance to support local COVID-19 relief work.

For example, in Canada, our affiliate Imperial Oil Limited offered 80,000 Esso and Mobil fuel vouchers worth $2 million to frontline nurses, paramedics and doctors as part of its Heroes Campaign. Our India affiliate partnered with United Way Mumbai to deliver protective gear to hospitals in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. In China, we provided lubricants needed for ambulances and the construction of hospitals, along with tens of thousands of masks and protective suits.

In Belgium, we provided monetary support to major clinical trial efforts at University Hospital Antwerp and University Hospital Leuven, which researched potential treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19. 

We also worked with authorities to help slow the spread of coronavirus. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, we offered our network of more than 50 Village Liaison Officers to help government health officials provide information in remote areas where the company operates. These Village Liaison Officers – typically clan leaders or councilors who inform community members about our activities and hear local concerns – helped raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention and safety measures, as well as how to implement proper social distancing.

Our work to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic was part of our long-standing commitment to safeguarding the health and security of our employees and the public, and to supporting the needs of the communities in which we live and work – a commitment we have embraced throughout our company’s history.
ExxonMobil volunteers worldwide helped distribute food to local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.