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Ports, waterways, refineries and platforms all feel Harvey’s wrath

The Houston Ship Channel remained closed on Monday and numerous refineries were out of action as were offshore oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Harvey continued to wreak havoc in Texas.

All ports on the Texas coast were closed, too.

Houston, a major hub for the oil industry, was struggling mightily under what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” which had already claimed eight lives and untold billions of dollars in property damage.

One of the world’s busiest waterways for transporting, crude, petrochemicals and petrol products, the Houston Ship Channel is not expected to reopen earlier than Tuesday, possibly later.

Along the coast, the Port of Corpus Christi has a 450-foot drillship, Paragon DPDS1, grounded in its access channel near Port Aransas after the vessel was dislodged from a dock by the force of Harvey.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), a branch of the Department of the Interior, said oil and gas companies had evacuated personnel from 98 production platforms in the Gulf, about 13.3% of all manned platforms.

BSEE estimated 18.94% of oil production, about 331,370 bpd, was shut in. And likewise, 8.12% of natural gas production (about 583.39 million cubic feet).

Anadarko Petroleum did say it had returned staff to its Lucius platform and that production had restarted at four others of its Gulf facilities.

As for refining, approximately 1m bpd of refinery capacity was offline in Houston and Galveston alone.

Flooding had forced the closure of several refineries including six in Corpus Christi.

Exxon closed the nation’s second largest refinery in Baytown while Royal Dutch Shell stopped operations at its Deer Park refinery, saying it could be down for a week.

Marathon’s Texas City and Galveston Bay refineries, Petrobras’ Pasadena refinery and LyondellBasell’s Houston refinery were similarly affected.

Operators of the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery, biggest refinery in the US, were considering shutdown as water poured in, with a decision expected by Tuesday morning.

Some Texas refineries could be out of action for a month if storm-drainage pumps are submerged, experts say.

It is estimated that Harvey has forced offline about 11.8% of US refining capacity.

Harvey, which hit the shore as a Category 4 Hurricane, is the most powerful storm to hit Texas in 50 years.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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