AmericasOffshoreOperationsPorts and Logistics

Training vessels ordered to join Harvey relief effort, as ports, refineries and offshore rigs begin the recovery

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) has ordered that two maritime academy training ships be dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico to help with relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey’s devastation.

These vessels are State University of New York Maritime College’s Empire State VI and Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s Kennedy, and both are set to make their way to Texas within 10 days of the order.

Also, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has notified MARAD to activate another marine training vessel already in the disaster area, the Texas Maritime Academy’s General Rudder.

All three are expected to provide accommodation to emergency workers.

MARAD is part of the Department of Transportation and its remit is to promote waterborne transportation in the US.

As the weather system that wreaked havoc has now dispersed, ports, refineries and offshore rigs are tackling the big job of recovery.

Experts expect it to be several weeks before refineries around Houston and in Beaumont and Port Arthur will be back online.

Exxon’s refinery at Baytown, near Houston, could be ready sooner as it needed only minor repairs despite being flooded. It is the second biggest refinery in the nation.

Refineries at Corpus Christi, south of Houston, are ahead of the recovery curve, with the Valero Energy facility there on Monday becoming the first shutdown refinery to return to full operations. The Citgo and Flint Hills Resources installations are expected to follow suit soon.

In southwest Louisiana, where the deluge of rain was not followed by the same degree of flooding as Texas suffered, refineries at Lake Charles and the lower Mississippi River are open.

Harvey shut down about 20% of the US’ refining capacity, mostly by flood damage at plants or the imminent chance of such. It included about 4 million barrels per day being offline along the Texas coast.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), part of the Department of the Interior, said that as of Sunday night there had been no damage reports from offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf, although some companies were still assessing their facilities.

US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) says it has received and is reviewing a request to waive Jones Act rules because of Harvey’s impact. The Act mandates vessels transporting items between US ports must be made, owned and flagged in the US with crews of US citizens or permanent residents.

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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