Afternoon Coffee: Tropical storms slow oil and gas production in Gulf; Airline invests in cleanliness; U.S. manufacturers’ PPE supply chains

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Two storms targeting the Gulf Coast slowed oil and gas production Sunday as companies removed workers from more than 100 offshore platforms, according to the Associated Press. The Interior Department reported that by midday, 114 platforms were evacuated. Those platforms account for only 18% of staffed platforms but produce 58% of Gulf oil production and 45% of its natural gas output.

Hurricane Marco was downgraded overnight, and by noon Monday the tropical storm was off the Louisiana coast, according to another AP article. But Tropical Storm Laura, now near Cuba, is expected to reach hurricane status and hit the same area of the coast midweek — likely compounding flooding with its rain and storm surge. The Gulf is home to major refineries near sea level and produces a little less than one-fifth of U.S. oil production, according to AP.

“Gasoline demand is weakening seasonally, and along with COVID-19, demand is running around 15% below last year,” analyst Patrick DeHaan told the Associated Press. “There is likely enough breathing room that even if a few refineries had to slow production of gasoline down, there should not be much if any impact to retail gasoline prices in the region or nationally.” 

Delta Air Lines focuses on deep cleaning with new staffers, testing kits

Delta Air Lines doubled its staff to revamp pre-flight pit stops for deeper cleaning and invested in new kits that test for germs and bacteria, Reuters reported.

The investments show how airlines have scrambled to improve cleaning processes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic without sacrificing turnaround time. Depending on the plane’s size, Delta said they would deploy at least eight pre-flight cabin cleaners, and the company adopted a new “pit stop mentality” that includes extra resources for cleaning each plane, the article said. The new resources upped Delta’s average clean time from 10 to 15 minutes to 20 minutes.

“As important as (being) on time is to our company, we know that cleanliness, particularly in this environment but also going forward, will be just as important,” Mike Medeiros, the leader of Delta’s global cleanliness division, told Reuters.

Tracking how COVID-19 changed U.S. manufacturers’ supply chains

The COVID-19 disruption highlighted U.S. supply chain processes, especially for key personal protective equipment (PPE) products, according to Supply Chain Dive.

Health systems and governments became much more reliant on robust and resilient PPE supply chains to defeat the virus. However, the pandemic also highlighted how many essential supplies are produced outside of the U.S.

Manufacturers in the U.S. responded by launching production lines and repurposing existing ones, according to the article.

The motivations of companies varied. Supply Chain Dive tracked how different manufacturers shifted toward producing more PPE, including ventilators, surgical gowns, N95 respirators and face masks.

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