Chevron dealing with Ike's wrath

September 16, 2008 7:40:15 PM PDT
Because of hurricane Ike, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it will tap the strategic petroleum reserve for 239,000 barrels of oil.

Ike is the second hurricane to hit the Gulf in two weeks and some of the efforts to get oil flowing, again, are happening in San Ramon.

If there is such a concept as the electronic eye of a hurricane's aftermath, it's happening at Chevron Oil Headquarters in San Ramon.

Marry Duffy never felt a gust of Hurricane Ike's wind or a drop of his rain. But she and everyone else in Chevron has been working 16-hour days, dealing with the problems Ike left behind.

"It's supply, distribution, and power," said Chevron Vice President of marketing Danny Roden.

And that's a gross simplification of the marching orders in a hurricane war room at Chevron.

"We've been monitoring hurricanes and tropical storms since May," said Larry Oliver from Chevron.

Anyone who has lived through a hurricane knows how communications and supply systems break down. There are roads filled with debris and long lines form for food, water and especially for fuel.

Last weekend, Ike shut down every step of gasoline production -- from rigs, to refineries, to gas stations. In San Ramon, the company keeps track and tries to resupply them. Chevron says it learned some lessons after Hurricane Katrina.

One factor to consider is that the Gulf produces about 25 percent of this nation's fuel supplies, which leads to this question in California: Will Hurricane Ike cause our gas prices to go up? The answer, at least according to Chevron, is probably not. For starters, we use a different refinery formulation.

"How long can this country sustain a 26 percent drop in oil production?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"We're trying to get it up and running as fast as possible. And there is more of the finished product of gasoline and diesel product on the way to the U.S. from all over the world," said Roden.

Oil is ordered to Texas from a crisis center in San Ramon. Long distance management in a wired, but gasoline powered world.

"Does it make you want to go to a hurricane?" asked Freedman.

"Heck no," said Duffy.


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