Helping the Community
Posted May 4, 2020
As everyone in government and the private sector works to contain the coronavirus, there’s no shortage of inspiring stories from the front lines of generosity and selflessness as Americans band together to meet the needs of their communities.
We’ve all heard about courageous medical professionals, first responders and essential workers – including grocery store employees, food service workers and delivery drivers – who are leading efforts to safeguard public health and meet priority needs. In this historic pandemic, they’re true American heroes.
At the same time, businesses, industries and others, including the U.S. military, have provided specific relief, boosted fundraising and mobilized product development to address supply chain gaps and fast-track the assembly of vital goods.
The natural gas and oil industry is one among a host of sectors that is working to lend a helping hand. We’re glad to assist with pandemic response efforts, because we’re community members, too. This includes donations to food banks, hospital systems and non-profit organizations that are dedicated to protecting the patients and families impacted by this global health crisis and its resulting economic downturn.
Along with monetary support, industry-specific contributions have included transportation fuels, personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical-grade hand sanitizers – with technologies and facilities refitted, in many cases, to distribute these critical resources. Here are just a few examples of what some industry members have done:
Providing Essential Fuels
This week, BP announced it will donate 3 million gallons of jet fuel to FedEx Express and Alaska Airlines to support the timely delivery of PPE – such as gloves, gowns, ventilators and masks – to areas of the U.S. with the greatest need.
The fuel will power more than 45 charter flights, at the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to at-risk communities determined by data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And with their donation, Alaska Airlines will be able to restore service and activate response to remote Alaskan communities. This announcement adds to BP’s existing commitment to providing medical professionals with gasoline at a 50 cents-per-gallon discount.
Manufacturing Medical Supplies
Recognizing the urgent need for medical, health and hygiene products, many companies have reconfigured operations to manufacture essential supplies. For example, ExxonMobil owns the world’s largest isopropyl alcohol production unit in Louisiana, which is now operating at full capacity to create the key ingredient used in hand sanitizers. The initial production of 160,000 gallons of hand sanitizer is being distributed to medical providers and first responders across the U.S.
During a heroic 28-day “live-in” at a Pennsylvania petrochemical plant, 43 Braskem employees worked around the clock to create tens of millions of pounds of raw materials needed to manufacture the face masks and surgical gowns worn by frontline medical staffers. The workers volunteered to stay within the confines of the plant to ensure that no one caught the virus while they acted to meet the rising demand for medical equipment and hygienic supplies.
In March, Dow Chemical selected five manufacturing sites around the world to produce and donate hand sanitizer to the states of Michigan and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
While Dow doesn’t typically produce hand sanitizer, its facilities have the necessary raw materials on-hand, and the company’s operational flexibility allows it to mix and package the supplies without impacting regular business. Over the past month, Dow is estimated to have produced more than 880,000 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for distribution.
The problem solvers at Dow also developed a lightweight face shield for healthcare professionals and shared the design via an open-source file. Made with only two pieces, the simplified design is intended to accelerate production rates and other businesses to contribute. After quickly engineering this innovative technology, the company plans to donate 100,000 face shields to the state of Michigan with the help of local assembly and supply chain partners.
Additionally, Phillips 66 refineries in California, Montana and Louisiana have allocated funds to efforts to make protective gear with 3D printers. After donating surplus PPE to frontline workers, refineries supported grassroots partners with the production of face masks, resulting in tens of thousands of additional products manufactured using 3D printing software.
Donating Stockpiled Resources
Last month, Marathon Petroleum delivered stockpiled PPE to hospitals and healthcare organizations, resulting in over 570,000 N95 respirator mask donations to facilities across 20 states. This compliments the company’s $1 million donation to the American Red Cross to provide food and shelter for those impacted by the economic fallout resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Supporting Recovery and the “New Normal”
ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell have made significant commitments to help combat the spread of coronavirus and provide relief for communities around the globe. As the natural gas and oil industry continues to supply the essential fuels to power relief and recovery, ExxonMobil also has produced 50,000 face masks for distribution in New York and Atlanta hospitals, and contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support first responders, public schools, foodbanks and restaurant workers in energy producing regions.
Similarly, Chevron has donated 100,000 surgical masks in California, and overhauled company-funded Fab Labs to produce additional PPE for local hospitals and first responders. Chevron also donated $1 million in fuel gift cards to support the essential personnel still commuting to work, and the company contributed $500,000 to the “Keep Kids Learning” initiative to help teachers and students adjust to remote learning environments.
In the U.S., Shell has donated face masks, gloves and PPE suits for medical professionals, fuels for food banks and non-profit organizations, and laptops and financial assistance for high school students. And abroad, the company has diverted resources to produce isopropyl alcohol to meet the increasing demand for soaps, sanitizers and surface cleaners.
Additionally, Apache donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care facilities in Houston. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. partnered with a local food bank in Pennsylvania, allocating $50,000 to hard-hit communities. Devon Energy partnered with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder to turn surplus T-shirts into thousands of face masks for local organizations focused on saving lives. EagleClaw Midstream committed $50,000 toward PPE. Hess donated 279 computers so Houston-area students could better engage in distance learning. Sempra plans to donate up to $500,000 to help small- and medium-sized nonprofits in Texas. And an individual engineer at Williams made 700 face shields for health care workers in Pennsylvania.
No doubt there are other illustrations and, again, our industry is just one of many who’ve focused a good deal of attention on helping where needs can be met. During a time of acute crisis, these combined efforts are what define us as a community – the American community we’re glad to be able to serve.
About The Author
Sam Winstel is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. He comes to API from Edelman, where he supported communications marketing strategies for clients across the firm’s energy and federal government practices. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sam graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina, and he currently resides in Washington, D.C.
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