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Heavy Rains Reduce Gulf Coast Refinery Output

Four refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast have reduced their processing rates because of heavy rains and flooding in East Texas and Louisiana. The severe weather conditions are forecast to continue this week, Reuters reports.

Among the refineries that suffered slowdowns was Total’s Port Arthur facility, which has a daily processing capacity of 225,500 barrels of crude oil and which suffered a brief power outage at the start of this week.

Another was Motiva’s 630,000-bpd refinery in Port Arthur, which was hit by a transformer blowout on Monday, Reuters noted.

A unit of Valero Energy’s Port Arthur processing facility suffered an outage, too, at the beginning of this week, according to data from Genscape that Reuters cited. The refinery has a capacity of 335,000 barrels of crude daily.

The fourth refinery that is partially shutting down is Exxon’s Baton Rouge facility in Louisiana, but, according to unnamed Reuters sources, the shutdown is for planned maintenance of a distillation unit and has nothing to do with the weather.

The heavy rains and flooding come ahead of hurricane season in June, with forecasts pointing towards “above average” storm activity this year. Colorado State University said in its annual forecast that it expected 17 named storms this season—eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

That compares to an average of 12.1 named storms per season between 1981 and 2010, and 6.4 named hurricanes per season, of which 2.7 major ones.

“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” CSU forecasters said.

Gulf Coast refineries were in February battered by the cold spell that rose to notoriety as the Texas Freeze, which took out power plants, oilfields, and refineries as equipment froze and power outages spread far and wide.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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