The Energy and Petrochemicals Industries’ Role in Fighting Covid-19

A recent opinion article published in Smerconish highlighted how the energy and petrochemicals industries have provided valuable support to nurses and doctors on the frontlines throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Early on, unused to such a high level of demand, America faced shortages of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide our frontline healthcare workers as well as everyday citizens with the supplies they needed. Now, once again supply shortages are being reported. Individuals are turning to look closely at the supply chain that produces the medical equipment we need.

Some people may be unaware how important the energy and petrochemicals industry is to the creation of frontline protective equipment. Dr. Dean Hart, expert in microbiology and published author on the transmission of viruses and diseases, explains;

“Their pipelines deliver energy resources like propane to petrochemical facilities, which then process them into polymers through a method referred to as “cracking.” Raw feedstocks are extracted in places such as Western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale and then delivered to facilities across the Commonwealth to be manufactured and processed.”

He uses the N95 mask as an example. The mask’s nose piece, sheath, and filters are made up of three different petrochemicals all produced by American petrochemical manufacturers. They are also responsible for creating affordable single-use plastics items like PVC IV bags, syringes, blood bags, aprons, gowns, nasal cannulas, and medical tubing. He notes other items in high demand the industry is producing including, ventilators, MRI machines, pacemakers, endoscopic probes, and anesthetics, among others.

Hart continues to highlight the energy industry’s role writing;

“Some energy companies have altered their production entirely to make products under increased demand due to the pandemic. Dow employees transformed some facilities to produce hand sanitizer, which was later donated to local health care systems and government agencies. Energy Transfer and Sunoco LP, two of the country’s largest energy companies, recently donated eight pairs of military-grade medical glasses to local first responders that allow them to limit contact with patients significantly. These are just a couple of examples of how the energy industry has positively impacted our healthcare frontlines.”

Hart eloquently summarized his article saying;

“Our country will need to work together to defeat this virus and help restore America’s health. While many think our nation’s energy companies only help us fuel our cars and power our homes, the United States has significantly benefited from their vast energy reserves and the technical know-how to provide the medical supplies we need to stay safe and treat COVID-19 patients. We owe them our thanks.”