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How bp tracks weather to keep its people and assets safe

Release date:
28 May 2024
A man wearing protective gear walk down the steps at a bp offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico

This story is part of a series that illustrates the depth and breadth of bp’s safety efforts.

Mike Fuori knows the date he first became fascinated by the weather: March 13, 1993.

 

“It was the storm of the century,” he recalls. Now a meteorologist for bp in the US, Fuori remembers how the storm’s rain, thunder, lightning and snow came all at once. It was unlike anything he’d ever seen in Atlanta, where he grew up. From that experience, Fuori knew he wanted to keep people safe by studying the weather – and telling them about it on TV.

 

As a student at Florida State University, Fuori created the student-led weather program, which still operates to this day. Run by a team of four, it’s a 30-minute broadcast that keeps students up-to-date on the weather of the day. He also starred as part of the weather teams on different news stations around Georgia.

A picture of Michael Fuori, meteorologist for bp in the US, sitting at a desk

Since joining bp in 2012, Fuori has played a critical role in helping keep the company’s US-based people – and assets – safe from severe weather events. That’s a big task: nearly one-third of bp’s global employee base – about 30,000 people – are based in the US, more than anywhere else in the world. Nearly every major bp business has a presence in the US.

 

Of bp’s US businesses, the company’s Gulf of Mexico assets are most at-risk for hurricanes. The five bp-operated platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are a crucial source of US energy – providing roughly 300,000 barrels of oil per day, high-quality jobs and a large investment for the Gulf Coast region. Several hundred bp employees and contractors work directly on those platforms.

 

Along with his work for the Gulf of Mexico, Fuori tracks weather for over 200 bp sites in the US and around the world. This includes providing forecasts for our onshore wind farms, refineries, onshore oil and gas production, corporate offices and more.

Map showing bp's Gulf of Mexico offshore platforms

Being proactive is one of the most important parts of keeping those employees safe.
 

Fuori distributes forecasts to the Gulf of Mexico team twice daily, seven days a week. He leads hurricane preparedness sessions, sharing what he expects to see for the upcoming season. He also does a lot of outreach to educate offshore-based employees on the rationale behind his weather pattern projections.  

 

“We are often having to make business decisions with a lot of lead time – and still uncertainty and risk in the forecast,” Fuori says. “This is where experience comes in – we know that weather models may not have it right, but our experience tells us what is most likely to happen.”

 

In the unfortunate circumstance of a hurricane heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, Fuori plays a lead role in bp’s Severe Weather Assessment Team (SWAT), which remains in constant communication with the business’s leadership. He works closely with the bp’s Crisis and Continuity Management Team, which manages the overall severe weather plan, particularly for the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Weather tracking is even more important, since the people on bp’s platforms must be evacuated well before a storm arrives. That’s because the helicopters that bp uses to transport people between platforms back to land can only take 18 people at any time. On land, bp finds accommodations for these employees in Houma, Louisiana. If Houma is assessed to also be in the storm’s path, the company identifies alternative locations more inland and occasionally, in other states.

 

In the days leading up to the evacuation, a core group prepares bp’s platforms to keep them safe during the storm. After stopping operations, they tie down as many objects as possible and ensure monitoring systems are working properly – those help our people on land keep an eye on the facility throughout the roughest parts of the rain, wind and waves.  

bp well advisor technology in bp's Houston Monitoring Center

Fuori expects the 2024 hurricane season to be busy. He’s predicting a high number of named storms – potentially 20 or more. That’s because, he says, “we usually look to previous years that had similar weather patterns. This year we’re coming out of a strong el niño and going into la niña.”

Keeping people safe is a full-time job, but it isn’t just the weather in the Gulf of Mexico that Fuori watches. Fuori is based on the trading floor of bp’s Houston headquarters, but supports the business across North America, tracking the weather, watching trends and impacts to the market to help their traders assess markets.


One, last, fun fact about Fuori – he’s a lifelong NASCAR fan.


“I’ve been to every single race at Atlanta Motor Speedway with my father since 1985,” Fuori says. “As a twelve-year-old and budding meteorologist, I accurately predicted the race would be delayed by a storm and that we should stay home.” The date was March 13, 1993.