Hurricane season opens Friday

05 31, 2012 by Daily Advertiser

Just as coastal residents prepare for the 2012 hurricane season which opens Friday, Louisiana's oil and natural gas industry is making preparations to protect workers and equipment and to provide the fuel residents need to flee an approaching storm.

"Our footprint and our assets in the Gulf of Mexico and in the coastal region are enormous," including people, pipelines and platforms, Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, said Wednesday. "We monitor these storms very, very, very carefully."

The top priority, for government and the industry, is to get people out of harm's way, including the thousands of workers on rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

In April 2010, there were 33 rigs with about 3,000 workers in the Gulf, John said. Those workers have to be evacuated by helicopter at a cost of millions of dollars to the industry, he said.

"It is very expensive when we give an order to evacuate," John said.

A second priority for the oil and gas industry is to make sure there's a sufficient supply of fuel for people trying to evacuate and for emergency response vehicles such as police, fire and medical workers, John said.

The Louisiana Fuel Team was established by Gov. Bobby Jindal in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2010.

The team includes oil and gas refiners, distributors, marketers, transporters and various state agencies who work together to ensure adequate fuel supplies for gas stations during emergency situations and to inform the public about where they can get fuel, Louisiana Secretary of Natural Resources Scott Angelle said in a news release.

Residents can check the DNR's online database for gas stations along their evacuation route. The web address is
Mid-Continent is a part of the fuel team.

The Gulf Coast region accounts for nearly half of U.S. refining capacity and the Gulf of Mexico accounts for almost 30 percent of the oil and 11 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States, according to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.