Instrumentation challenges of Hurricane Katrina to highlight ISA 2006 keynote

By Control Engineering Staff July 20, 2006

Reconnecting all the instrumentation systems and repairing the physical damage of Hurricane Katrina was among the crucial tasks of the recovery effort, recalls Peter Batey, refinery manager at the Alliance Refinery for ConocoPhillips in Houston. Batey, who played a key role in bringing his company back online following the disaster, will deliver the opening keynote address at ISA 2006 in Houston on Oct. 17. His presentation will touch on the refinery shutdown, the recovery process, lessons learned, and plans for the future.

“We faced an unbelievable combination of unique challenges in trying to recover from the damage Katrina caused,” said Batey recently. “Things you take for granted like communications, transportation, and accommodations became huge stumbling blocks in our recovery efforts. There’s no training for the combination of challenges that we faced.”

Batey’s refinery was among the largest facilities to be shut down completely by the storm that hit the Gulf Coast last August. It took 235 days to regain full operation. The refinery was not even partially operational until January. He charged managers to never underestimate employees’ and contractors’ the drive and commitment to rebuild. “Hundreds of people, whose own homes had been destroyed, chose to work hours on end to re-establish refinery operations,” he said.

The keynote session will be among the highlights of ISA Expo 2006, which runs Oct. 17-19 at Houston’s Reliant Center. In addition to the keynotes, the event will include a technical conference, daily forums, and more than 400 product exhibitors. Click here for more on ISA Expo 2006, including registration information.

Jeanine Katzel , senior editor, Control Engineering