2023 Gulf Hurricane Season: Oil and Gas Continued Commitment to Safety and Preparedness
Every year, states across the Gulf Coast brace for hurricane season. The Gulf Coast region experiences an average of 14 named storms, 3 major hurricanes and 7 hurricanes each year. Being one of the nation’s most important oil and natural gas-producing areas, the industry has earned a reputation for its remarkable commitment to safety, preparedness, and response to severe weather events.
Despite the challenges posed by hurricanes and storms in the Gulf Coast, some of the lessons learned to improve on crisis preparedness and response include:
Safety Never Takes A Break
Over the years, the oil and gas industry across the Gulf has learned to prioritize safety in its day-to-day operations, particularly safeguarding human lives. Advancements in technology and improved risk management assessments have also allowed the industry to reduce major impacts on infrastructure that could severely compromise operations.
Almost every operator along the Gulf Coast has built deliberate resilience and preparedness plans prioritizing employees, the environment, and operations. These plans include streamlining communication systems, conducting timely assessments, improving emergency response and business continuity plans, using technology such as drones for aerial inspections, and collaborating strategically with government agencies.
Continuous Improved Preparedness
The Gulf oil and gas sector has persevered in the face of unpredictable weather events, emerging from hurricanes stronger and more resilient than ever.
Following the passing of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, it only took the affected Gulf operators 29 days to fully recover to pre-storm levels compared to 53 days during Ike in 2008 and 91 days during Katrina in 2005. At the same time, only 37 percent of the Gulf Coast production went offline after Harvey, compared to 56 during Katrina. Being exposed to unpredictable weather events has allowed the Gulf industry to integrate essential lessons to improve safety and outcomes continuously.
The efforts to improve preparedness paid off last year as well. When Hurricane Ian passed through the Gulf, many oil and gas operators deployed their natural disaster readiness strategies in a timely manner, resulting in minimal market and supply chain disruptions. Once again, proving the industry’s ability to swiftly prevent, prepare for, assess, and restore operations during severe weather events.
Why Oil and Gas Safety Matters for Local Communities
Prioritizing safety and preparedness benefits oil and gas operators and protects local communities and workers. It is now a standard practice of offshore operators along the Gulf Coast to evacuate non-essential personnel and shut down operations during severe weather events to ensure the safety of the local labor force and the community. Additionally, the industry’s focus on worker relief efforts ensures a quick and safe restart of operations after the storms.
During hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, approximately 29 percent of the total U.S. output from oil and gas operators and refineries in the Gulf was shut down. Despite the catastrophic impact of these weather events, which destroyed several platforms and pipelines, it was later reported that no industry personnel lost their lives, and there were no reports of spills or environmental and biodiversity damage.
Avoiding Supply Chain Disruptions
During severe weather, keeping up with oil and gas supplies is essential to avoid supply chain disruptions, power outages, and sharp increases in electricity and gas prices. Business continuity plays a significant role in ensuring that during this time, the output demand of the local communities and the nation are met, jobs are preserved, and overall economic impact is kept to a minimum.
By maintaining a steady oil and gas supply during extreme weather events, the Gulf industry helps avoid supply chain disruptions, power outages, and sharp increases in electricity and gas prices. This plays a crucial role in meeting the demand of local communities and the nation, preserving jobs, and minimizing overall economic impact.
In less than two decades, the oil and gas industry on the Gulf Coast has dramatically improved its ability to mitigate, respond, and restore operations during severe weather events. The industry has done so by embedding safety in its culture and continuously learning from past experiences.
The commitment to safety and preparedness protects the industry’s interests and safeguards local communities and consumers. With its significant contributions to the nation’s energy security and economic stability, the Gulf Coast oil and gas industry is a reliable and essential energy source for the future.