WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The Texas oil industry, already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, dodged a bullet with Hurricane Laura.
But oil company leaders are still bracing for a potentially worse-than-normal hurricane season.
Frank Macchiarola with the American Petroleum Institute says the U.S. oil heartland was in Laura’s direct path.
“You are looking at potentially up to 7 million barrels of capacity for the refining space in the area of the storm, about 27 refineries,” Macchiarola said.
But he says the storm changed course and barely missed dozens of chemical facilities—many of which are storing extra oil produced during the pandemic.
“As the governor of Texas noted, it really could have been much worse,” he said.
“The fortunate thing about a hurricane coming in an area that is hurricane-prone, is that there is a better set of preventive measures in place,” Devin Hartman from R Street Institute said.
Hartman says they are still assessing the damage, but he says oil companies were prepared and evacuated their facilities in advance.
“So they were able to take these units offline, otherwise you are looking at tens of millions of dollars in damages per facility if you can’t make those sufficient preparations,” he explained.
Hartman says the next question is how long until they can get back up and running before the next storm.