Getting geared-up for Gustav

Exxon Refinery in Beaumont was flooded after Hurricane Rita, late Sept. 2005. The storm shut down a fifth of the nation’s refining capacity. (Mayra Beltran/Chronicle)

The Gulf oil and gas industry continues to prepare for a possible hit on its facilities from Hurricane Gustav. <a href=" Here is the latest from Shell:

“Today, Shell plans to evacuate approximately 300 personnel from its GoM operations. Yesterday, Shell safely evacuated almost 400 people. We expect to evacuate the remaining 600 personnel on Friday and Saturday.
Given the evacuation of personnel and forecast track, we have begun shut-in procedures for a few Shell-operated assets that require long lead times, such as subsea wells.”

So far the evacuations have had little impact on production but the Minerals Management Service is expected to put out a report around 1 p.m. today with some data on that front.
Our story today emphasized the onshore impact of the 2005 storms and how that ended up being just as big, if not a bigger, long-term challenge. A few items that we weren’t able to get into the story due to space:
In 2005 power outages plagued two of the largest gasoline pipelines in the country, the Plantation Pipeline run by Kinder Morgan and the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston to New York and moves as much as 100 million gallons of fuel per day. This led to fuel shortages in some regions, like Atlanta.
Kinder Morgan officials stressed that the Plantantion Pipeline itself wasn’t damaged and that pre-storm preparations are designed to handle any possible impacts. Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said the company now has backup generators it can deploy on flat bed trucks to keep pump stations running, but more importantly it has better lines of communication with local utilities that are responsible for serving its pump stations.
“The kind of damage we saw in those storms were a first for many in the industry,” Baker told the Chronicle. “It’s put us in a much better position today.”
David Dismukes, a professor Louisiana State University’s Center for Energy Studies, told us many refineries that were down due in large part to power outages have learned they can’t rely on the local grid and have onsite generators and “black start” units to restart their own generators.
Refineries owned by Murphy Oil and Exxon Mobil in Chalmette, just south of New Orleans along the Mississippi suffered outages in part due to power outages, but both companies have told us they still rely on the local grid and don’t have black start units.