Par Hawaii’s commitment to preventing oil spills

Doing what's best for the environment

Sponsored by Par Hawaii

More than 80 percent of Hawaii’s energy comes from petroleum. Par Hawaii imports crude oil from all over the world and refines it into various products for consumers in the islands. HI Now is getting a look at the refining process in Kapolei, home of the only operating oil refinery in the state.

Keeping up with consumer demand requires a steady flow of petroleum to our islands. It also requires constant vigilance to prevent oil spills, but Par Hawaii is also prepared if a spill does occur.

“Hawaii has no natural oil or gas resources, so everything that we use here in Hawaii is brought from outside,” said Barry McFarland, vice president-environmental, health, safety and operational risk for Par Pacific. “With the responsibility of bringing product here, we have the responsibility to do it with care, to protect local resources, protect the local community, and work in a responsible fashion for all of Hawaii.”

Par Hawaii works with oil spill response partners like the Marine Spill Response Corporation for oil spill clean-up. The Hawaii Responder is a vessel equipped with infrared technology and specialized radar to detect high concentrations of oil on the water.

“In Hawaii, we’re isolated. We’re a very small island in a large ocean,” said McFarland. “The resources we have must be dedicated locally first, but we can reach out to other mainland companies that can cascade or mobilize resources from the U.S. West Coast.”

As part of a recent annual drill, Par Hawaii conducted a demonstration to show how dispersants could be applied to oil out at sea as a way to prevent oil from reaching the shoreline. It’s a tool that has been pre-approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to remediate oil spills and responders are required to carefully evaluate the incident and meet stringent criteria before deploying dispersants.

“Dispersant is a chemical that’s used to disperse oil on the surface. It’s an environmental trade-off between other techniques that we have like skimming the oil,” McFarland explained. “We want to make sure we have all of the tools in the toolbox to give us the options that are best for the environment.”

Par Hawaii believes that whether it’s fossil fuels or some other kind of energy source in the future, being responsible for how it is transferred will always a be a top priority.

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