The Department of Homeland Security has designated the fuel and petrochemical industries as “critical” since their products are essential to numerous aspects of society and the economy, including health care. But in addition to delivering products foundational to efforts to fight COVID-19, AFPM members are also supporting their communities through the unprecedented challenges brought on by the spread of the virus, including by protecting and supporting health care workers, meeting the need for hand sanitizers, supporting community charitable organizations, and providing resources for children’s education.

Protecting and Supporting Health Care Workers

Many of our members’ products are essential for the creation of medical equipment. For instance, LyondellBasell’s polypropylene resins are used to produce melt-blown fibers that provide filtration in facemasks, while polypropylene, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide are used to make medical syringes, medical test kits, soaps and disinfectants. 

And as a part of their rigorous safety protocols, many companies in the fuel and petrochemical industries have stores of protective gear, including respiratory masks, to ensure that their employees can safely perform their duties. Some of them are now offering up these life-saving devices to health care workers.

Last week, Marathon Petroleum deployed its entire stock of personal protective equipment (PPE), sending over 560,000 pieces—including N95 respirator masks and gloves—to hospitals and healthcare organizations nationwide.

In Kentucky, Westlake Chemical worked with one of its suppliers to obtain and donate approximately 400 respiratory masks to local hospitals.

Other members are kicking operations into overdrive to help protect and supply health care workers. DuPont, for instance, is expediting the production and delivery of Tyvek hazmat suits for health care workers. These polyethylene suits, which are made from the petrochemical ethylene, repel aerosols and fluid and in conjunction with masks and gloves are critical in keeping medical personnel from being exposed.

And Honeywell has announced that it is adding an N95 face mask production operation to its Phoenix Engines campus in Arizona to help address the shortage. The new operation, it is estimated, will employ 500 people or more.

Meanwhile at Flint Hills Resources’ Longview, Texas chemical plant, their employees are producing polypropylene that is being used to make critical components for COVID-19 testing kits. And FHR’s Peru, Illinois team is producing the expandable polystyrene being used to transport COVID-19 test kits and therapies to healthcare professionals on the front lines of this battle. 

Meeting the Need for Hand Sanitizers

AFPM members are also a driving force behind efforts to ensure that there is sufficient hand sanitizer and cleaning agents for hospital and emergency personnel. Since hand sanitizer is made with ethanol or isopropanol—both of which can be made by AFPM members—our industries have rallied to meet this exploding demand.

Dow announced that it has coordinated with state and federal agencies to repurpose its Auburn, Michigan, and South Charleston, West Virginia, manufacturing sites to produce hand sanitizer, estimating that each facility will produce roughly 15,000 pounds of hand sanitizer per week. The hand sanitizer will be donated to the State of Michigan, hospitals and first responders in the Great Lakes Bay Region, the State of West Virginia, and the cities of Charleston and South Charleston in West Virginia.

Similarly, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge is providing isopropyl alcohol (IPA), a key ingredient of hand sanitizer, to the State of New York to ensure continued supplies there.

And Flint Hills Resources’ Longview, Texas, chemical plant is producing polypropylene that is being used to make critical components for the packaging of cleaning products and even the plastic closures for hand sanitizers. 

Supporting Community Charitable Organizations

The fuel and petrochemical companies are integral parts of the communities that their employees call home, and are activating quickly to help meet their neighbors’ needs in the face of COVID-19 crisis.

Valero has committed to contribute $1.8 million to help communities during the pandemic, with funds going to the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, Meals on Wheels, University Health System Foundation, Family Services Assistance, Family Violence Prevention Services, Respite Care of San Antonio, ChildSafe, and Haven for Hope, among others.

Dow similarly has set aside $3 million to aid COVID-19 relief efforts, with funds going both to global relief organizations as well as nonprofits in communities where Dow operates. And Chevron has announced it is contributing $230,000 to a number of Permian Basin nonprofits, with a focus on food and housing security. 

Many companies are also providing donations at the local facility level. For example, Phillips 66 Ferndale has given $60,000 to the Whatcom County, Washington, coordinated COVID-19 response unit to help provide software at the emergency operations facility, a unified command website, and volunteer training. And Valero has donated 10,000 fuel cards to organizations in their communities that rely on transportation.

Providing Resources for Children’s Education

Our members are also prioritizing support for children, a vulnerable population during this pandemic.

Phillips 66 is working with the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and iWrite to continue literacy education while students are out of school. The Children’s Museum of Houston will host a Daily Virtual Story Time in both English and Spanish, sponsored by Phillips 66.

Phillips 66 is also supporting the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s effort to order 100,000 new books to donate to the Houston Independent School District (ISD). In partnership with the Houston Food Bank, these books will be distributed to families with pre-K to eighth-grade children as they pick up food at the designated school locations. More than 75% of children in Houston ISD are on the National School Lunch program and will be using this program while schools are closed. Meanwhile, iWrite is partnering with Kids Meals to include literacy journals, sponsored by Phillips 66, during their meal distributions to children in Houston.

And CITGO has partnered with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to donate 150 Kindles to the Houston and Alief Independent School Districts to help support low-income students' e-learning needs during the COVID-19 school closures and subsequent move to remote learning platforms. 

AFPM members are working hard to meet the needs of their employees, their communities and their country, and will continue to bring the strengths of the fuel and petrochemical industries to bear in these unprecedented times.

Details on Member Efforts: