ExxonMobil's second largest U.S. refinery, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will be increasing the production of gasoline and other fuel products over the next several days and will promptly ramp-up production rates further as crude supply from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) and other sources increase above today's levels. This will help ease customer demands in regions hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.
The U.S. Department of Energy has approved ExxonMobil's request for a loan of up to 6 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help ExxonMobil gain access to additional crude supplies at Baton Rouge. Over the past several days the company has coordinated with governments, industry and utilities to restore power to industry pipelines and Mississippi River marine transportation so that crude can be delivered to the refinery. Increasing production at ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery should have significant positive impacts to customers.
The next step is to work with industry to restore pipeline transportation to increase product supplies in areas affected by the hurricane. This has been difficult due to the outage of the Colonial and Plantation Pipeline systems. Plantation Pipeline is now reportedly open at near full capacity. Over the past several days, heightened price volatility and uncertain gasoline supplies associated with this major natural disaster have created an extremely difficult situation for ExxonMobil's customers. Demand at the company's Exxon and Mobil stations has nearly doubled. Wholesale spot market and NYMEX gasoline prices have risen substantially in the U.S. and around the world.
ExxonMobil is making branded fuel available to its independent retailers and distributors at wholesale prices below the spot market and NYMEX gasoline prices. The vast majority of Exxon and Mobil service stations are operated by individual dealers and distributors who purchase their fuel products from ExxonMobil and set their own retail prices. The company encourages its independent dealers and distributors to act as responsible neighbors in their communities in this difficult situation. ExxonMobil also urges motorists to continue to be prudent in their purchases. For example, frequent "topping off" of tanks will only create artificial shortages.