With hurricane season now upon us, CITGO has been busy preparing for a potentially active storm season this year. With hurricane activation plans already established at each of our facilities, CITGO believes that the best course of action when our people and operations are threatened by an approaching severe weather system is to be fully prepared and ready, and follow governmental agency recommendations.
At the Houston corporate office, our company’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Team monitors weather threats across our operations on an ongoing basis. When severe weather approaches, the BCP Team is activated to implement decisions regarding office closures, travel and staffing. The safety of our employees, contractors and neighbors is always our first priority, and the BCP team considers a variety of views and scenarios when making decisions. The BCP Team communicates in advance all closures through internal emails and an automated calling system.
The preparedness and recovery actions taken at each of our Refineries and Terminals vary based on the probability and severity of predicted weather in their geographical area. CITGO employees are proud to provide the fuel and refined products that support the economies of our regions as well as everyday life in our communities. The role of our facilities during weather emergencies is critical not only to ensure the safety of our employees and neighbors, but to provide much-needed fuel to first responders.
Strategically located along the U.S. Gulf Coast for ease of trade and commerce, both the CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery in Texas and the CITGO Lake Charles Refinery in Louisiana are at constant risk of severe weather systems every hurricane season. This is why CITGO has continuously-improving plans in place to mitigate weather impacts and ensure the safety of our people and communities.
Our Refinery Hurricane Emergency Plans utilize existing company organization, procedures and resources to prepare for each hurricane season. The plan establishes guidelines to be followed before, during, and after a hurricane that threatens or impacts a refinery and could affect the safety, security, environment or well-being of CITGO personnel and the surrounding community. The plans include responsibilities and actions for each of our various departments and personnel, including support staff at our corporate offices, to ensure the proper response to an oncoming storm, up to and including the shutdown of a CITGO facility should that be necessary. If necessary, an orderly shutdown is planned beginning approximately 36 hours prior to forecast hurricane strength winds occurring at a facility. The shutdown is completed approximately 12 hours prior to the expected hurricane force winds. Each and every employee is expected to be familiar with their Department’s storm planning and the activities they are expected to perform in each stage of a possible emergency.
Every Department at the CITGO Corpus Christi and CITGO Lake Charles refineries participates in hurricane preparedness and the staff is trained in the current Hurricane Emergency Plans. The plans also include third party resources, vendors and contractors who play a vital role in our hurricane preparedness before and after a storm makes landfall. Some of these contractors and resources travel from non-hurricane areas to assist when needed. Our response plans are closely integrated with our third-party suppliers since an oncoming storm may affect them, which could indirectly affect our operations.
Each year, CITGO reviews lessons learned from past hurricane seasons and incorporates these findings. At the beginning of the year, a series of meetings are conducted to integrate lessons learned, update department plans, contact information, responsible persons, and review logistic issues for the coming year. Utilizing some of the lessons learned from past hurricane seasons makes our plans stronger, and the refineries and supply chain better-prepared in the event a hurricane impacts one of our regions. After Hurricane Harvey, the CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery reviewed lessons learned from the impact in the Coastal Bend region as well as the Houston area, the nation’s energy capital. Due to the severe flooding in the Houston area, CITGO Corpus Christi has implemented contingency plans for other services and resources, should this type of event occur again.
CITGO severe weather emergency planning is in place to ensure the safety of our employees, contractors and communities, as well as to minimize production outages, potential environmental impacts and economic losses. We all have a personal responsibility to safety and I’d like to encourage everyone to review your respective roles in emergency response and be prepared – before the storm.