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HANSA 10-2017

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Häfen | Ports Ports focus on resiliency after hurricanes In the United States, the double punch of two hurricanes- slow moving »Harvey« which hit the Gulf Coast of Texas at the end of August and the massive »Irma« which battered Florida during the second week of September, has brought the issue of resiliency to the forefront. By Barry Parker Every storm is different, and advanced forecasting of hurricane tracks is difficult. Hurricane Harvey’s damage, inflicted on the coastline from Corpus Christi up as far as Port Arthur/ Beaumont, resulted from unprecedented levels of rainfall and subsequent flooding. Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc with its high winds and storm surges in low lying areas; forecasters initially anticipated a landfall at Florida’s East Coast, where Miami, Port Everglades and Palm Beach are situated, only to watch the storm move over to the West Coast, affecting the Tampa Bay area. In advance of the respective hurricanes, ports in Texas and Florida were closed. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is the agency that will make the determination of whether a seaport may remain operational, or not. When winds are anticipated to be at gale force (roughly equivalent to »Force 7« for a sustained time period), within 12 hours, the USCG will declare »Condition Zuluq at a particular port. After such a declaration, activity in the port must cease (for vessels that have not exited), and no vessel arrivals are allowed. Following the storms, the ports were then reopened after USCG inspection of facilities. In Texas, where Harvey hit, most of the refineries and terminals closed down in advance of the rain, with its resulting lack of electricity. Two weeks after the storm some of these facilities were finally resuming their operations. In Florida, where Irma hit two weeks later, planners had responded to misfortunes of the early 1990’s, when Hurricane Andrew stuck south of Miami in 1992. New construction standards had been augmented with requirements for hurricane resistance. Structural integrity is one aspect of resilience, but so is landside logistics. The recent storm exposed a series of logistics challenges for surface transportation in Florida (where there are no oil refineries, or pipelines from refining centers) for distribution of petroleum products – but the ports resumed operations quickly. Tampa and Port Everglades are both major hubs for gasoline and jet fuel, brought in by barges and tankers, from refineries in Texas or abroad in the case of tankers. Getting back in business Advance planning is vital. The Chief Executive Offcer of Port Everglades, Steve Cernak (the incoming Chairman of the Board of the American Association of Port Authorities), told HANSA: »Business continuity is a priority after, and sometimes during, an emergency. For that reason we focus on planning for a worstcase scenario. If the port cannot operate, it has a negative effect on all the businesses we serve and the community we live in.« Cernak, whose career includes work at the Port of New York and New Jersey, and at the Port of Galveston, Texas, is also Chairman of the Florida Ports Council. Proper execution is also crucial. Following its re-opening, two days after Irma had passed through Florida, Port Everglades was emphasizing the importance of restoring normal supply chains for fuels. The port informed that: »The petroleum companies based at Port Everglades are working around the clock to meet unusually high consumer demands resulting from Hurricane Irma. Three petroleum tank ships arrived Tuesday and are currently offoading 18 mill. gallons of gasoline, 3.5 mill. gallons of diesel and 14.7 mill. gallons of jet fuel. Two more tank ships are scheduled to arrive tonight and tomorrow morning. The port representative added: »Ten of the 12 petroleum companies that operate at the Port have reopened,« and that: »Trucks began delivering storm reserves (4-day’s worth under normal circumstances) on Monday morning following Hurricane Irma.« In Texas, Hurricane Harvey exposed a major vulnerability, which is the sheer concentration of refineries and processing plants in a small area of the vast U.S. coastline. Antoine Halff, the Director for Global Oil Markets at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, wrote that: »The flipside of US energy ‘dominance,’ and more specifically of the phenomenal US ramp-up … unleashed by the shale miracle in the last few years, may thus paradoxically be, in some ways, heightened energy vulnerability.« One implication for U.S. policy presented by Halff might be increasing the 90-day-guideline for oil held in the U.S.’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Earlier in the year, President Donald Trump had suggested halving this reserve (holding nearly 700 million barrels of crude oil), for budgetary reasons. Benchmarking Resiliency Once skies have cleared after a hurricane, then what should happen at ports? In the context of maritime operations, key questions are: What types of preparations must ports make in advance of storms? How quickly can ports come 78 HANSA International Maritime Journal – 154. Jahrgang – 2017 – Nr. 10

Häfen | Ports back online after a shutdown? Where rebuilding is required, what types of »disaster-proofing« is necessary? All ports have emergency plans – covering procedures for shutdown, evacuations, and re-starting. But resiliency, an imprecise concept, has never been benchmarked. That may be changing. Through a project that was launched in late 2014, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce in conjunction with five states on the Gulf of Mexico coast, planners have been developing a new tool: The Ports Resilience Index (»PRI«). This tool, in its early stages, does provide checklists for ports to plan for resiliency. This is an important starting point. On a practical level, there are still many challenges for ports with cargo handling facilities; indeed, the authors of the PRI assessment materials acknowledge that: »Every port is different,« and that, in an emergency, there may not always be a precise blueprint for actions. Each catastrophic event brings unforeseen challenges; for example, back-up electrical requirements had not been adequately addressed in regulations that applied to certain chemical processing facilities in Texas. In Corpus Christi, a drillship broke loose from its moorings and temporarily blocked the entrance to the port. Academic Studies of Resiliency Often, »fixes« are done an emergency basis. An article appearing in an academic article appearing in the August, 2017 issue of the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change offers an important perspective. In their article the researchers based in Galveston’s campus of Texas A&M University suggest: Protecting ports from the impact of adverse weather events is a »wicked problem« defined as: »…one where the planning for adverse events is diffcult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often diffcult to recognize…« This »wicked problem« is complex but can be mitigated through the measure of resiliency. Improving port resiliency happens with collaboration and over time, not overnight. CEO of Port Everglades: Steve Cernak Another academic analysis by a research team from the University of Mississippi, intones port planners: »Hardening of port infrastructure assets in the area is recommended to enhance resilience against coastal disasters and minimize supply chain disruptions.« With Hurricanes »Harvey« and »Irma« fresh in mind, port planners will likely be revisiting all their plans to be able to cope with natural disasters in the future. M At Texas ports, vital for the US energy industry, Hurricane Harvey caused severe damage Photos: US Coast Guard/ Barry Parker HANSA International Maritime Journal – 154. Jahrgang – 2017 – Nr. 10 79

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