More Big Hurricanes Forecast for U.S.


More Big Hurricanes Forecast for U.S.

With some forecasters predicting a big increase in hurricanes of the magnitude of last year’s Harvey, industry sources say preparation is key to minimizing the impacts of such storms.

The United States enters its five-month hurricane season next week, and a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences forecasts that Harvey-magnitude events will double due to climate warming.

Photo: kakela/Flickr

The impact of Hurricane Harvey caused several base oil and additive plants to shut down, including Motiva’s Port Arthur plant, ExxonMobil’s Baytown plant and Valero’s Three Rivers facility.

Last year Harvey – the costliest tropical cyclone to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina – caused several major base oil production sites to close down, leading to an estimated $200 million in lost revenue, according to LubesnGreases. Over a quarter of domestic base oil capacity was left at a standstill for weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey due to the storms severe rainfall and wind conditions.

Minimizing the impacts of large storms is an ongoing challenge for base oil and lubricant additive suppliers, as well as their customers.Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association CEO Holly Alfano recommends looking into a Hazard and operability analysis plan.

A flood related HAZOP would require engaging a civil engineer with floodplain experience to evaluate flood risks to the operation, as well as evaluate elevations and drainage. The analysis would also consider risks to operations and how those risks could be mitigated, said Alfano.

She advises companies in all coastal areas, particularly the flood-prone areas, adopt a HAZOP. Hurricane season affects not only the East Coast, but all the coastal regions of the U.S., she noted.

A Hazard and operability analysis plan is best used for assessing hazards in facilities, equipment and process, and assesses systems from a design; physical and operational environments; and operational and procedural controls perspective, according to Product Quality Research Institutes training guide.

In order to create a proper plan, your company must go through four steps, says PQRI. First, you must define the scope, objectives and responsibilities of your HAZOP team. Next its time to prepare. This step includes collecting data on your system design, environment, engineering controls, operational modes, etc.

The third, and most complicated step, is the examination phase. During this phase all elements of the system or process need to be looked over. For example: physical systems may be broken down into smaller parts as necessary; processes may be broken down into discrete steps of phases; similar parts or steps may be group together to facilitate assessment, the guide explains.

Lastly, companies enter into the documentation and follow-up phase, in which the company documents all policies and makes note of any need for more explicit risk rating or prioritization.

Not all companies, however, choose to use the HAZOP system. ExxonMobil, for example, uses a framework called the Operations Integrity Management System, which addresses items like emergency preparedness, risk assessment and facility design.

Exxon conducts numerous drills, tabletop exercises and implements site-specific trainings as a part of its disaster preparedness plan.

Several days before expected landfall, we initiate preemptive inspections and preparations, as well as shutdowns and evacuations as appropriate, Sarah Nordin, ExxonMobil media relations advisor, said in an interview.

Preparing for weather events is a well-planned activity and a way of doing business for companies operating on the Gulf Coast, Nordin asserted.

Last year roughly 270,000 tons of base oil capacity were knocked out according to Kline & Co. Using a disaster plan can help your company to avoid losing significant capacity as a result of severe storms. For more information on how to prepare your production site for the June through November hurricane season read Good and Ready in the May issue of LubesnGreases.

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