AmericasOffshorePorts and Logistics

Some Texas ports reopen with restrictions, while Louisiana refineries continue operating despite Harvey

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has approved the reopening of some ports in Texas following their closure because of Tropical Storm Harvey, according to Reuters and the Houston Chronicle. But restrictions still apply.

Houston, the major hub for oil and petrochemicals, is one of those ports. Galveston, Texas City and Freeport are the others.

USCG’s restrictions mean that the upper part of the Houston Ship Channel is still out of bounds, and that area includes five oil refineries.

And another restriction, particular to Texas City, limits the size of vessel allowed there to only the smallest draft tankers.

There was some optimism on the refinery front, too, as refineries in Louisiana’s Lake Charles complex were continuing to operate early on Thursday despite Harvey’s passage.

The Phillips 66 and Citgo facilities at Lake Charles were both still running as Harvey, the worst rainfall disaster in modern US history, caused less flood damage than feared.

Phillips 66 was using some of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) after working out an emergency exchange agreement with the US Energy Department. It got the crude from the SPR’s West Hackberry site south of Lake Charles.

Two other Louisiana refineries – Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville installation and Exxon Mobil’s Baton Rouge facility – were also still operating. Both are less impacted by Harvey.

By contrast, several Texas refineries had shut down in previous days either as precautions or because of the effects of flooding.

The storm is forecast to move through northeastern Louisiana and northwestern Mississippi on Thursday.

Offshore oil and gas production in the US Gulf of Mexico remains hampered, however.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said self-reporting by offshore operators showed that at the end-of-day on Wednesday there were still 102 platforms from which personnel had been evacuated, no change from the end of Tuesday.

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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