Hurricane season officially starts June 1, but recent tropical storms along the Atlantic Coast are reminders that hurricane preparations don’t start or end on a particular date.
That’s a fact those of us in the oil and natural gas industry are well aware of, which is why ExxonMobil maintains extensive hurricane preparedness plans throughout the year.
Our industry has significant operations in the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico. The importance of the Gulf from an energy security standpoint is clear – offshore production there accounts for 29 percent of oil and 12 percent of natural gas production in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Additionally, about 40 percent of total U.S. refining capacity is located along the Gulf, as well as about 30 percent of U.S. natural gas processing capacity.
But even more importantly, oil and natural gas operators have thousands of employees and contractors in refineries, chemical facilities and offshore rigs, and ensuring the safety of our people is paramount as a storm approaches.
Here are just a few of the steps we take to secure our people and facilities throughout hurricane season:
- We use advanced weather-forecasting tools to monitor potential storm activity.
- As many as 10 days before expected landfall – depending on expected trajectory and timing – we initiate a multi-phase hurricane-response plan that involves pre-emptive inspections and preparations, as well as shutdowns and evacuations, at facilities in the path of the storm.
- We pre-position critical equipment that can help keep operations running, such as portable, pre-wired generators throughout our Gulf Coast pipeline and terminal network.
- We use employee tracking data to make sure workers are safe if they have to evacuate, and we keep business running by arranging for office space outside the hurricane region.
- We provide regular updates on the impact on our operations at exxonmobil.com/stormupdates.
The American Petroleum Institute also has a detailed breakdown of the actions that oil, gas and pipeline companies take in advance of a storm, as well as their actions following a storm to ensure all facilities can be re-started in a safe and secure manner.
Of course, storms in the Gulf of Mexico can develop quickly, leaving less time for preparations. That’s why at ExxonMobil, we stress having up-to-date action plans not only for our facilities and employees, but also for their families and local communities.
In marking Hurricane Preparedness Week May 27 through June 2, the National Weather Service published a series of videos that can help families and communities understand the risks of hurricanes and develop action plans. You can view the videos at the National Weather Service website.
Storms can be unpredictable, but our action plans to stay safe during them are not. I encourage you to read more about ExxonMobil’s emergency preparedness plans at our website.