Supply problems continue to hamper access to gasoline 

Demand for gasoline in the Baton Rouge area has lessened in recent days, as electricity has been restored to nearly 99% of all homes and businesses in the parish. 

But the supply problems that have led to shortages in some parts of south Louisiana continue more than a week after Hurricane Ida ravaged the area.

• Five of the nine refineries in the state remained shut as of noon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Together, they account for about 1 million barrels per day of refining capacity, or approximately 6% of total capacity in the U.S.

• More than 80% of oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains shut-in. Refinery operations cannot restart until feedstock supply, power and other essential third-party utilities are restored, DOE says.

ExxonMobil in north Baton Rouge is among three Baton Rouge refineries that have initiated the restart process. But it will take several days for the refinery to get up to full production.

“We did not have issues at the plant but our suppliers have not been able to bring us feedstock, so that is why we brought the site down,” says ExxonMobil Public and Government Affairs Manager Stephanie Cargile. “But our terminal has been able to keep operating and help meet local demand.”

Cargile says the biggest challenges at the moment are logistical—trying to get existing product from the local terminal to customers in hard-hit areas amid a nationwide truck driver shortage that has been exacerbated by the storm.

“The challenge has been in trying to get the truck drivers out quick enough to refill gas stations that have power, and knowing which stations have power because you can’t pump the gas without electricity,” she says.

Nearly 40% of Livingston Parish and some 60% percent of Tangipahoa Parish remain without power this afternoon, affecting some gas stations in those parishes.

To ensure employees of critical infrastructure like hospitals have adequate gasoline, ExxonMobil and Lard Oil Co., one of the main distributors in the area, have deployed a mobile tanker truck. Over the weekend, a Lard Oil truck was set up at the Baton Rouge Clinic to enable health care professionals in the Health District to fill up with some of the 11,000 gallons of gasoline ExxonMobil donated.

ExxonMobil and Lard also partnered in bringing 16,000 gallons of donated diesel to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System facilities headquarters so school busses could be filled up and ready to begin regular operations for the restart of school today.

“It’s been a good opportunity to learn to be creative,” Cargile says.