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Hurricane Update: Focusing on Fuel Supplies Before Irma Arrives

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 7, 2017

As the Texas-Louisiana region continues its recovery from Hurricane Harvey, energy companies are making preparations for Hurricane Irma, which the National Hurricane Center projects could make landfall in Florida on Sunday:

irma_forecast

The big issue in Florida is consumer access to fuel. Companies are working with state and federal officials to meet needs. ExxonMobil CEO and Chairman Darren Woods told CNBC his company’s objective is to ensure that Florida’s fuel inventories are high enough to keep all parts of the state well-supplied once Irma passes:

“We’re not trying to second guess where that storm will be. Instead we’re trying to be prepared across the board so that irrespective of where it lands, we’ve got fuel where we’re going to need it.”

With no refineries and no pipelines providing fuel directly into the state, Florida gets the overwhelming majority of its transportation fuels via marine delivery – tankers and barges – according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

florida_fuel_supply_flows

florida_fuel_supply_sources

Florida Gov. Rick Scott:

“We are aggressively working around the clock to bring more fuel to Florida gas stations. I have held calls with the federal government, fuel retailers and oil companies to find ways to address this issue. … We have asked fuel companies to identify ships that are in route to our ports so we can arrange military escorts to get them here faster. … All Florida ports are operational and able to accept fuel shipments.”

The state has worked with fuel suppliers to identify excess fuel in the state’s Western Panhandle, to potentially arrange escorts to ensure that there is supply where needed for evacuations. Scott said he has waived certain restrictions and regulations to expedite the ability of fuel trucks to deliver to stations. He said at his request the same restrictions have been waived in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama. Scott urged state residents sheltering in their home counties to take only the fuel they need to help ensure all Floridians will have access to gasoline.

Meanwhile, other precautions were being taken. BP reported it was securing its Thunder Horse production and West Vela drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 150 miles southeast of New Orleans:

BP is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma to ensure the safety of our personnel and operations in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. With forecasts indicating potential impact this weekend in Florida and possibly later along the southeast Atlantic Coast, BP now is taking additional steps to respond. In the Gulf of Mexico, BP has begun securing offshore facilities for heavy weather and evacuating non-essential personnel from our Thunder Horse platform and the West Vela drilling rig. BP is also preparing for the possible evacuation of remaining offshore workers and the shut-in of production at facilities if needed. However, no production is shut-in at this time.

TECO Peoples Gas, which operates 11,000 miles of natural gas mains in Florida, the state’s largest natural gas delivery system, was preparing its facilities and yards for bad weather.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.