Coordination and communication are two pillars of hurricane preparedness.

Offshore oil and gas firms are constantly under the gun to pump out product to the millions of Americans who use it everyday to fuel their cars, their homes and their equipment. That's particularly true during hurricane season, one of the busiest times of year for travel, but also one where's the likelihood of a shutdown is elevated given the uptick in tropical storm activity along the Atlantic Ocean.

"45% of America's oil refining capacity derives from the Gulf of Mexico."

The American Petroleum Institute says 84 percent of the oil supply in the Gulf of Mexico originates from deepwater facilities and nearly half – 45 percent – of the country's total refining capacity also comes from the Gulf Coast. This reality places a tremendous amount of pressure on the professionals in charge of oil and gas projects to know what emergency management preparations and techniques to employ when a hurricane is in the forecast. And according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there's a 70 percent chance the next six months will produce at least 10 named storms. Whether they actually strike the U.S. remains unknown. 

If you're new to the industry, or a long-time veteran and could use a refresher, the following safety recommendations from the API can help you and your team avoid danger and reduce the chances of a significant stoppage in oil and gas production.

  • Watch and listen to the latest weather reports for the region, making sure to follow up when meteorologists forecast the potential for a tropical storm or hurricane.
  • Understand the differences between a tropical storm and hurricane. Generally speaking, tropical storms tend to be less substantial in terms of rain amounts and wind speeds.
  • Keep your crew in the loop on the tracks of storms and what direction forecasters believe hurricanes will take.
  • Obtain contact details from your employees, including their cell phone numbers, email address and any other pertinent information that will allow you to get in touch at a moment's notice.
  • Get a better understanding of the Saffir-Simpson Wind Energy Scale and what each of the categories mean in terms mean, which can inform how you go about preparing.
  • Category 1 hurricanes are the weakest, with wind speeds ranging between 74 and 95 miles per hour. Cat 5 weather systems produce wind gusts of 157 mph or higher. Most Cat 1 storms tend to be fairly minor, while Cat 5 – although rare – usually result in catastrophic levels of damage.
  • Run through evacuation drills throughout the hurricane season so team members know exactly what to do before, during and after a major weather event.
  • Know the name and direct contact information for your state emergency management agency.
  • Forty to 72 hours in advance of a storm's projected arrival, speak to local and federal officials about evacuation proceedings and whether they'll go forward. If so, drillships may need to be relocated.
  • Work in concert with local and state-based industry representative and organizations to coordinate in the run up to a hurricane's landfall, during the event itself and in the aftermath.
  • Download the API's Oil and Natural Gas Industry Preparedness Handbook, which contains important information on the industry and what coordination mechanisms are in place at various levels of government. 
  • Wait to receive word about when production can resume in the aftermath of a tropical storm or hurricane. This will likely be learned after officials perform an evaluation from the air.

The oil and gas industry has effectively weathered numerous hurricane seasons, and with you and your crew's emergency preparedness planning, this year should be no different. Turn to Fisk Marine Insurance International for all your coverage and service needs so damaged equipment can get repaired quickly to avoid any lengthy supply chain disruptions. With over 40 years of experience in marine and oilfield insurance, we'll be here for you when you need us.

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