Hurricane Laura: Three Things to Know
Posted August 26, 2020
As officials at the National Hurricane Center monitor the projected path of Laura (below, as of Wednesday evening), here are a few things to know about the U.S. natural gas and oil industry’s preparations:
1. We’re focused on the safety of workers, communities and infrastructure
Our employees and the people who live in storm zones are the primary concern, even as we work to minimize the risks posed by extreme weather to critical energy infrastructure.
Our industry’s experience with tried-and-true preparation and response plans is key to ensuring our employees’ safety. Then we can focus on important facilities such as pipelines and refineries so they can resume operating to support responses to hurricane impacts – specifically, to help limit supply disruptions and aid recovery.
While major weather events test preparations, we are focused on being as ready as possible for this season. And for the 2020 hurricane season, industry preparations also include the use of pandemic planning resources to ensure critical health and safety measures are taken as the outbreak of COVID-19 continues.
2. U.S. energy leadership, lower demand mean inventories of refined products are strong
As the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil, and due to lower demand associated with COVID-19, the U.S. enjoys near-record high inventories of crude oil and refined products, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. From a fuels standpoint, our country is in a good position to meet the challenges of hurricane season.
3. America’s energy infrastructure network is modern and diverse
Our country’s energy – crude oil and finished products – is transported over a wide and diverse supply network of pipelines, barges, rail systems, tankers and trucks.
The network is large and geographically positioned to be adaptable. If some avenues are temporarily unavailable due to weather impacts, other parts may help compensate. Storms can temporarily force local infrastructure – such as terminals, pipelines and barges – out of service, affecting supply at the local and national level. Alternate modes of delivery may be necessary that may be less cost-effective and less-efficient, resulting in delays outside of the impacted region. This is fundamental to minimizing disruptions and bringing markets back to normal as quickly as possible.
It’s especially important during hurricane season because of the concentration of refineries along the Gulf Coast. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 60% of gasoline used on the East Coast and about one quarter of the crude oil run in Midwest refineries are shipped from the gulf region.
No one can predict the impacts of a particular storm. Our industry’s long experience of carefully preparing for and rapidly responding to major weather events is important as Americans who may be in Laura’s path prepare for it. Below, some useful links:
- National Hurricane Center
- U.S. Department of Energy Hurricane Hub
- API’s hurricane resources and information site
About The Author
Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in London, and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.
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