NOIA Statement on Offshore Energy Industry Hurricane Preparedness

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Contact: Nicolette Nye, (202) 465-8463, nnye@nullnoia.org

NOIA Statement on Offshore Energy Industry Hurricane Preparedness

 Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the 2018 hurricane season, Tim Charters, NOIA Senior Director for Government and Political Affairs, participated in an energy industry joint press conference today on hurricane preparedness.  His full statement, which expands on his remarks as delivered, follows:

 “The 2017 hurricane season caused widespread damage and human suffering in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and exposed the vulnerabilities and strengths of American energy security. Thankfully, in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore energy facilities faired remarkably well compared to onshore energy facilities, many of which suffered catastrophic damage from flood waters.

“At any given time, there are thousands of workers offshore producing energy and earning a living to support themselves, their families and communities. Despite the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms in 2017, there were no reported deaths or injuries among offshore workers, no reported damage to offshore facilities and no reported spills from offshore facilities.  This is a testament to how well the offshore industry prepares for and responds to hurricanes.

“Prior to the arrival of a hurricane offshore facilities are secured, and all personnel are evacuated in pre-determined stages. In addition, offshore compa­nies provide critical support during disaster recovery efforts onshore. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Nate, offshore companies provided support services, emergency funds, housing and other assistance to their employees, and donated millions of dollars to the Red Cross and similar organizations.

“The offshore energy industry has an enviable record of protecting the lives of its offshore workers and the safety record of industry in hurricane preparedness and response has been achieved consistently year after year. While we are proud of the offshore industry’s safety, environmental and philanthropic record, natural disasters like Harvey and Nate also expose the vulnerability of America’s energy security. Due in part to poor energy policy, and political NIMBYism, America has placed the vast majority of our offshore energy eggs in one basket – the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico.

“Energy companies working in the Gulf produce about 1.7 million barrels of crude oil and 3.2 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that up to 24.5% of oil production and 26% of natural gas production from the Gulf was temporarily curtailed as a result of Harvey and several weeks later up to 92% of oil production and 77% of natural gas production was temporarily curtailed as a result of Nate. In addition, the flooding that followed slow-moving Harvey forced the closure of refineries along the Texas coast, taking offline 25% of the nation’s crude oil refining capacity. Less than two weeks after Harvey, gasoline prices, including those from pumps thousands of miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, reached their highest level in two years.

“Hurricanes have the potential to strike the heart of the U.S. offshore energy industry and temporarily weaken our nation’s energy security; and this is one of the reasons why the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) has long advocated for increased access to federal offshore areas outside of the Gulf. Unfortunately, due to short-sighted federal policy decisions, only 6% of our nation’s outer continental shelf is currently accessible to the offshore oil and gas industry– 94% is off limits.

“The success of the offshore energy industry has helped position the U.S. as the world leader in the production of oil and natural gas.  However, the 2017 hurricane season revealed just how precarious that position can be.  The lack of access to new sources of oil and natural gas outside of the Gulf of Mexico coupled with infrastructure that is centralized along the Gulf Coast, resulted in temporary shut downs in the energy delivery system for major population areas of the U.S. and a rapid rise of gasoline prices at the pump.

“Simply put, we dodged an energy security bullet during the 2017 hurricane season.  By geographically concentrating our nation’s offshore energy production, the U.S. is rolling the dice when it comes to natural disasters.  This is why we must ensure the continued development and production of our nation’s offshore energy resources from both inside of and outside of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Thankfully, the Trump administration re-opened the discussion about how we manage the energy sources off our coasts and is in the second stage of developing a new and more expansive National 5-Year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program that proposes to open new areas for exploration and potential development of vital resources to meet our nation’s energy demand and reduce our foreign imports.  Decentralizing offshore energy sources will strengthen American energy security and economic security by ensuring production of offshore oil and natural gas continues, even if hurricanes or other natural disasters cause temporary disruptions from onshore and offshore energy producing areas.”

Please visit NOIA’s Hurricane Preparedness webpage for facts, figures and more information.

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ABOUT NOIA
NOIA is the only national trade association representing all segments of the offshore industry with an interest in the exploration and production of both traditional and renewable energy resources on the nation’s outer continental shelf. NOIA’s mission is to secure reliable access and a fair regulatory and economic environment for the companies that develop the nation’s valuable offshore energy resources in an environmentally responsible manner. The NOIA membership comprises about 250 companies engaged in business activities ranging from producing to drilling, engineering to marine and air transport, offshore construction to equipment manufacture and supply, telecommunications to finance and insurance, and renewable energy