gearing up for hurricane season
June 30, 2015 – As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, and with the 2015 hurricane season under way, Chevron’s Jack/St. Malo and our other Gulf of Mexico assets stand ready for severe weather.
Jack/St. Malo, located in 7,000 feet (2,100 m) of water, approximately 280 miles (450 km) south of New Orleans, Louisiana, is “more remote” than many of our other assets says Offshore Installation Manager Tommy Boepple, requiring “additional time to initiate the systems that will ensure the safety of our people and assets.”
“Growing up on the Gulf Coast, like many of our employees, I’ve seen the destructive power of hurricanes first hand,” said Mike Illanne, vice president for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico business unit. “Preparation is the key to weathering any severe storm. That’s true for the community and that’s true for our company. Our ability to protect people, the environment and our facilities comes from disciplined planning, clear accountability and comprehensive procedures.”
Having more deepwater assets in Chevron’s portfolio requires even more foresight. Jack/St. Malo is located in 7,000 feet (2,100 m) of water, approximately 280 miles (450 km) south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Offshore Installation Manager Tommy Boepple explained, “Jack/St. Malo is more remote and therefore we have to allow additional time to initiate the systems that will ensure the safety of our people and assets.”
Tahiti is another of our company’s major deepwater projects in the Gulf of Mexico, also making it subject to severe weather in the region.
Boepple added, “We have a number of resources that we rely on. Chevron maintains our own Gulf of Mexico helicopter fleet, for example, giving us greater flexibility in the event we need to evacuate a platform prior to a storm’s arrival. Jack/St. Malo is also equipped with technology to track a storm’s progress and trajectory, as well as detailed computerized crew manifests to keep tabs on who is offshore and where precisely they are located. Like other fields, Jack/St. Malo is connected to our onshore Decision Support Center (DSC) located in Covington, Louisiana, which serves as ‘mission control’ during severe weather. We also conduct periodic drills that reinforce each individual’s role and responsibilities in the event of a tropical disturbance or hurricane.”
Chevron and our legacy companies have been exploring for and developing oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 75 years. Currently, we have an interest in 587 leases in the Gulf, 386 of which are located in water depths greater than 1,000 feet. At the end of 2014, Chevron was the largest leaseholder in the Gulf. Over the decades, we’ve brought our people safely through numerous tropical storms and hurricanes, including mega-storm Katrina. During that hurricane, Chevron evacuated more than 1,000 employees and contractors without a single injury.
Our tasks and timelines during severe weather are guided by our Hurricane Action Plan (HAP). As part of this plan, storms are monitored as soon as they begin developing. If they have the potential to impact the Gulf of Mexico, the Hurricane Evacuation Team (HET) is activated, and the DSC is staffed 24 hours a day. Assets in the Gulf are evacuated and production is shut in using phases based upon the track of the storm and information provided by the National Weather Service. The facilities closest to the tropical weather’s most immediate path are cleared first. All available marine and aviation assets are directed and monitored by the DSC throughout the entire evacuation and remobilization process.
In Phase One, which covers any tropical storm or hurricane within the Gulf or the leading edge of any tropical depression within 200 miles of any Chevron operations, we begin moving any nonessential personnel and liftboats out of the affected area.
During Phase Two, which involves a tropical storm or hurricane within the Gulf that is forecast to directly affect our operations, we completely evacuate nonessential personnel.
Under Phase Three, which covers a hurricane or storm that represents imminent danger to our people and operations, we evacuate all employees and contractors and shut down production.
Chevron remobilizes when weather conditions allow for the safe movement of personnel and equipment. We first perform surveillance flights before re-staffing to ensure the integrity of our facilities.
Mike Illanne said, “Our level of preparedness at Jack/St. Malo and throughout the Gulf is based on decades of experience with tropical weather. While we’re proud of our severe weather systems and our record of keeping people safe, we must remain vigilant. Our commitment to personal and process safety must never waver – especially during hurricane season.”
Published: June 2015