Energy Industry Steps Up to Battle COVID – 19 Pt. II

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog about workers at the Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania Braskem plant that ‘lived in’ at the plant for 28 days to focus production on important chemical feedstock for medical supplies to fight COVID – 19, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board has identified more industry efforts to step up in this vital time of need.

Much like the Braskem plant in Marcus Hook, other companies are diverting their attention from energy production to medical supply chain production. In particular, ExxonMobil has begun to increase production of isopropyl alcohol – a key component of hand sanitizer – and specialized propylene used in face mask and medical gown manufacturing. The company is also collaborating with Boeing to ramp mask production up to as many as 40,000 per hour.  

Again, hats off to the private industries stepping up during these dire times. These efforts draw a stark contrast to environmental activists cheering recent energy market volatility and subsequent financial damages to the energy sector.

The full editorial can be read here:

“Anti-carbon activists don’t sleep even during a pandemic, and earlier this week New York City Council members introduced a resolution to divest from banks invested in fossil fuels. Perhaps they don’t know that hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment come from hydrocarbons synthesized by their arch-villain Exxon Mobil.

Exxon’s predecessor Standard Oil invented isopropyl alcohol (IPA), the key ingredient in disinfectants and hand sanitizer, in 1920. Its Baton Rouge chemical plant is now the world’s largest producer of IPA. While refineries have been throttled back, Exxon has ramped up IPA production by 3,000 tons per month, which is enough to produce 50 million four-ounce bottles of sanitizer.

The oil giant recently noted in a press release that the state of New York has turned to the Baton Rouge plant for critical supplies. Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be grateful Exxon isn’t holding a grudge after the state’s four-year inquisition for allegedly deceiving itself about its climate impact, which finally ended last December when a state judge tossed the state lawsuit as entirely without merit.

Exxon is also increasing production of a specialized polypropylene that is used in medical masks and gowns by about 1,000 tons per month, which is enough to manufacture up to 200 million medical masks or 20 million gowns. At the same time, it is applying its expertise in material science to develop new face shields that utilize a filtration fabric.

Working with Boeing, Exxon plans to manufacture as many as 40,000 masks an hour. According to an Exxon engineer, this new design and production method won’t be vulnerable to the supply-chain hiccups that have led to widespread mask shortages. No Defense Production Act coercion necessary.

As for the cries to divest from fossil fuels, oil and gas generate energy but are also the feedstock for an inestimable number of essential products. Do liberals want to divest from using those to fight off the coronavirus?”