As industries with deep-running safety cultures and critical roles in product supply chains, the fuel and petrochemical industries are uniquely positioned to share vital products with some of those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the safety equipment commonly found at refineries and petrochemical facilities (such as protective garments and masks) and the products these industries produce (including fuels like diesel and gasoline, and the chemical building blocks for hand sanitizer and PPE) are being offered up as life-saving in-kind donations to health care workers and their communities during this challenging time.
Donating Safety Gear and PPE
Many facilities in the fuel and petrochemical industries routinely equip their employees with protective gear and keep certain other items in stock for use on an if-needed basis. When COVID-19 resulted in shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals, these companies stepped up to fill the need.
Marathon Petroleum deployed its entire stock of PPE in late March, delivering over 570,000 N95 respirator masks to 46 hospitals and health care organizations in 20 states. Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend facility and Pipeline & Terminals similarly donated all of their surplus PPE to the Salvation Army of Minnesota to help frontline health care workers. And Chevron donated 100,000 surgical masks to four health care providers and is supporting an effort to create an additional 1,000 face shields.
Construction, engineering, and mining company Kiewit chipped in as well, donating 2,500 Tyvek suits and 500 N95 masks to protect medical professionals at Driscoll Children’s Hospital and donating several hundred additional N95 masks to hospitals in Nebraska and Colorado.
Companies have also reached out to their suppliers to help marshal this much-needed equipment. Westlake Chemical, for instance, worked with one of its suppliers to obtain and donate 400 respiratory masks to medical professionals in Kentucky.
These donations of critical PPE have helped to fill the equipment gaps for health care workers, even as other AFPM member companies have ramped up their production of these key products.
Supplying Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectants
One of the most common – and critical – frontline defenses against COVID-19 is hand sanitizer. When spiking demand left few options for frontline workers unable to obtain hand sanitizers, refining and petrochemical companies deployed their specialized products and expertise to help mitigate this shortage.
LyondellBasell donated enough isopropyl alcohol, a key ingredient in hand sanitizer, to enable Huntsman Corporation to produce five tons of hand sanitizer for the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the associated medical facilities at the University of Utah. Baker Hughes similarly reallocated chemical supplies and partnered with chemical manufacturing company Syntech to produce hand sanitizer, which will be donated to about 40 Houston-area sites including hospitals, local first responders, nursing homes, shelters and food banks.
ExxonMobil, one of the largest producers of isopropyl alcohol, quickly mobilized production and partnered with chemical distributor Univar Solutions to deliver thousands of gallons of disinfectant to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in just days to meet skyrocketing demand. ExxonMobil is also providing isopropyl alcohol to the Louisiana’s Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the State of New York, and has donated hand sanitizer to health care workers and other frontline professionals in Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas.
And BASF, which is temporarily producing hand sanitizer at its Wyandotte, Michigan and Washington, New Jersey facilities, has already made over 9,500 gallons of hand sanitizer to donate in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Ohio and California.
Donating Key Materials for PPE
Given the essential role of petrochemicals in PPE, several AFPM companies were able to aid in their production by donating essential components.
Eastman Chemical produced and donated PETG, a copolyester used for medical devices including face shields, to universities in Tennessee and to Purdue University in Indiana. The rolls of PETG film will be used to produce 10,000 face shields in Tennessee and 3,000 protective lenses and 4,000 face shields in Indiana.
As a part of its effort to help create a reusable face mask, ExxonMobil has donated polypropylene to the Nonwovens Institute at North Carolina State University for use in making the replaceable filtration cartridges for the masks.
SABIC, meanwhile, is donating $500,000 of products made at its facilities in North and South America. Products include approximately 70,000 face shields that will be distributed to healthcare workers and first responders throughout the Americas.
Companies are also donating their equipment and expertise. The Yokogawa Corporation, for instance, used its industrial 3D printers to produce a large quantity of face shield parts after receiving a request for help from the Georgia Tech Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership in their quest to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers in Newnan, Georgia.
Providing Fuel for COVID-19 Relief Efforts
While many Americans have limited their travel and remain under “shelter in place” orders, health care workers, nonprofits and even regular folks still need to drive for work, medical appointments and to shop for food. Recognizing that reality, several fuel companies have generously donated to their communities to help enable this travel.
In late March, Valero donated 10,000 fuel cards to organizations in their communities that rely on transportation as a vital part of their services. Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery is also supporting their local community by donating $20,000 in gas gift cards to Second Harvest Heartland, a nonprofit that partners with more than 1,000 food banks, to help them reach their goal of distributing 10,000 emergency food boxes to low-income Minnesotans.
Motiva, meanwhile, is helping out medical and emergency response organizations in Texas, Maryland, and Florida with $50,000 in gasoline gift cards.
The fuel and petrochemical industries continue to bring their expertise, products and generosity to bear in helping to fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic.