Oil Industry Mobilizes $23 Million For Hurricane Harvey Victims

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Oil companies have mobilized supplies and tens of millions of dollars in charitable donations to help Gulf Coast residents recover from devastating flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey.

Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, a major refiner, pledged $1 million to Texans harmed by the storm. The company will give $500,000 to the United Way and $250,000 in matching donations for storm victims, according to a Thursday release.

“Houston and southeast Texas are where we live and work and we are in this together,” the company’s CEO Mark Lashier said in a statement. “While Chevron Phillips Chemical is a global company – all our thoughts are with Texas this week.”

Houston is one of the oil industry’s major trading hubs, and oil companies are doing what they can to keep their employees and communities safe. Chevron Phillips is only the latest company to pledge money and aid packages to Harvey victims.

So far, oil and gas companies have mobilized $23 million for Texans and Louisianans caught in Harvey’s wake, according to tweets and public statements compiled by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

That’s in addition to industry workers helping to clear rubble and clean up wrecked neighborhoods.

“Our thoughts are with all of those who are dealing with the impact of this unprecedented natural disaster,” ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Phillips said in a statement announcing $5 million in donations to the American Red Cross and the United Way of Greater Houston.

ExxonMobil mobilized $9.5 million for hurricane victims, and crews working for a joint project with a Saudi Arabian chemical company were out in force to help clean up after the storm hit. Oklahoma-based Marathon Petroleum employees put together an aid package of supplies for Houston.

“In the community, Shell staff have helped out so many in need that people are flagging down anybody wearing the company pecten symbol to say ‘thank you,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden wrote in a LinkedIn article on the storm.

Shell announced $1 million to the American Red Cross, which is helping Harvey victims by bringing them food, medicine and other necessities. Red Cross operates shelters for Houstonians who lost their homes to the storm and subsequent flooding.

Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm in late August, forcing refineries, offshore drilling rigs and pipelines to shut. About 22 percent of the U.S.’s oil refining capacity was taken offline.

Refinery closures have caused a gasoline shortage and a spike in prices at the pump. More than 3 million barrels a day worth of refined fuels production was shut in to weather the storm.

Shell had to shut down its refinery near Deer Park, Texas as Harvey approached. Saudi Aramco’s Motive refinery near Port Arthur could be offline for weeks — it’s the largest refinery in the U.S.

Refinery shutdowns didn’t just affect gas prices, they also caused air pollutants and other chemicals to be released. Refineries flare chemicals when starting up and shutting down

Exxon shut down two refineries in southeastern Texas to protect against Harvey, including the Baytown refinery, the second-largest in the country. Both facilities reportedly released air pollutants.

The company was able to “stabilize” pollution leaks at its Beaumont refinery, according to The Texas Tribune.

The exact amount of pollution releases are unknown since environmental regulators shut down air pollution monitors in the area to keep them from getting damaged. Though Texas officials said initial estimates tend to be high.

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