Inspectioneering
Inspectioneering Journal

Hurricane Response

The Latest API Information

This article appears in the September/October 2008 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

How important is the limited oil refining infrastructure?

“The recent hurricanes that ripped through the Gulf of Mexico put a strain on U.S. oil and natural gas operations. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike led to the near-complete shutdown of the oil and natural gas infrastructure and production in the Gulf area, a major supplier of domestic energy.

As a result of the temporary loss of gasoline production and pockets of surging demand, fuel prices rose in some areas across the country. Many have asked: “Why should the price of gasoline increase in my area when we are nowhere near the hurricane-affected areas?”

The Gulf Coast region of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas is the heart of the nation’s oil and natural gas industry. It accounts for 46 percent of U.S. refining capacity and the Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 25 percent of the oil and 15 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States.

In advance of a tropical storm or hurricane, companies will evaluate and may decide to evacuate all non-essential personnel and begin the process of shutting down production, refining operations and pipelines. After a storm passes, companies must perform extensive inspections and damage evaluations to determine when it is safe to resume operations. Even if there is no damage, production cannot always resume immediately. For example, restarting a refinery is complicated and it may take several days to restore full production.

The restoration of power supplies is crucial, and electricity disruptions are common after a hurricane. Refineries also can be hampered by a lack of crude oil feedstock if offshore production platforms or ports and pipelines have sustained damaged or loss of power supply.” API has assembled a fact sheet to help consumers better understand the interconnected U.S. fuel supply system and what happens when a supply shock, such as a hurricane, occurs. To download the fact sheet visit the web site www. api.org or click on http://api.org/Newsroom/hurricane/ upload/HURRICANE_FLYER_2008.pdf

API in the past two years also has issued a number of bulletins to help better prepare for Gulf hurricanes:

  • Bulletin 2TD, Guidelines for Tie-downs on Offshore Production Facilities for Hurricane Season, is aimed at better-securing separate platform equipment.
  • Bulletin 2INT-MET, Interim Guidance on Hurricane Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico, provides updated metocean data for four regions of the Gulf, including wind velocities, deepwater wave conditions, ocean current information, and surge and tidal data.
  • Bulletin 2INT-DG, Interim Guidance for Design of Offshore Structures for Hurricane Conditions, covers how to apply the updated metocean data during design.
  • Bulletin 2INT-EX, Interim Guidance for Assessment of Existing Offshore Structures for Hurricane Conditions, assists owners/operators and engineers with existing facilities.

The API Storage Tank Conference, held October 8-9 included information on hurricane preparedness in addition to other topics. For more information on this visit the API web site.

For API information on hurricane preparedness for refineries, production facilities and pipelines and statistics of past hurricanes’ effects visit the web site http://www.api.org/Newsroom/hurricane/hurricane- preps.cfm


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