Every year hurricanes take dozens of lives and result in millions of dollars worth of infrastructure damage throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes also take a heavy toll on the oil and gas industry.
Hurricane Season begins June 1 and ends November 30. The season averages 10.1 named storms with an average of 5.9 storms that turn into hurricanes.
Oil and Gas Production in the Gulf
The Gulf of Mexico is an important source of oil and natural gas. The Gulf’s federal offshore oil production is responsible for 17% of total US crude oil production. The Gulf doesn’t just account for much of the country’s crude oil production, but it also accounts for 5% of US dry production of offshore natural gas.
Hurricanes majorly affect offshore activities. For example, Hurricane Harvey caused 20% of oil and 25% of natural gas production platforms to be shut down.
Effect on Refineries
Hurricanes don’t just impact offshore production. They also slow onshore refining operations through flooding and other dangerous weather conditions. During Hurricane Harvey, industry leaders had to close ten major refineries in Texas. Even after the waters receded, workers couldn’t reach the refineries due to flooded roadways.
The Industry’s Resilience
Just a few years ago, Hurricane Harvey stopped roughly a quarter of offshore production and over one fifth of the region’s refining capacity. Despite this, production in the region has made an incredible comeback.
This is in part due to the lessons during Hurricane Katrina. This hurricane caused the industry to go through significant changes. For example, the American Petroleum Institute updated the requirements for the height of offshore oil platforms to ensure they would be protected from hurricane-induced waves.
Experts now invest more time into monitoring and predicting weather patterns. They study how hurricanes influenced past operations and take those factors into consideration when creating future plans for emergencies. Because of these disaster recovery plans, the effects of hurricanes are far less extreme.
Hurricanes have a major impact on the US oil and gas industry. These storms harm offshore activities and shut down refineries. The industry is always evolving in an attempt to be better prepared for these occurrences and mitigate any damage. Moving forward, preparation will continue to be the key to the industry’s resilience and adaptability.