Gulf Coast refiners are recovering from the flooding and damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey, even as their neighbors to the east are bracing for a new wave of turbulent weather. A minimum of 1.4 million barrels a day are set to be offline past mid-September, with no real sense of when it will come to an end.Here is what refiners in the Gulf Coast area need to do in order to get back on track.
Even if refiners were largely unscathed by the rain, there are issues in getting back to work. Refiners rely on a lot of third-party suppliers for important products like crude oil as a feed stock, nitrogen, steam, hydrogen as well as working pipelines and transport modems to get back to work and supply customers. It is the very definition of having a successful supply chain.
Petrochemical plants are offline, including the world’s most important chemical, ethylene. Even steam is a problem, since it, too, is a product delivered to a refinery.
Working infrastructure is the next priority. Pipelines carrying crude from other states are just as critical as pipelines bringing refined fuels to cities like Chicago. Pipelines are much like a vein and artery system throughout the country, and they are a significant first step to getting back on track.
People power and safety, though, are just as important. Since many laborers are flooded out of their homes, getting back to work is limited by access to the job and roadways that have been washed away. Equipment must be inspected and tested for water damage and internal equipment must be dried with nitrogen.
Restarting a plant is a complex process that can take anywhere from days to weeks to fully complete. By being thorough, assessing damages and keeping safety at the forefront, refiners can get back to business sooner rather than later. Komax stands ready to help in the recovery process by replacing important mixing equipment with high quality, innovative designs that save on energy and product.