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Winter Storm Shuts Texas Oil Refineries

The 312,500-barrels-per day (bpd) Deek Park refinery in Texas, operated by Pemex, was idled late last week due to the severe Winter Storm Elliott and most units at the facility remained shut late on Sunday, sources with knowledge of the refinery’s operations told Reuters.

The severe storm swept through Canada and the United States just ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend, bringing freezing temperatures, snow, and icy conditions. Power supply was interrupted in some areas, thousands of flights were canceled and Christmas travel plans were disrupted. Just ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend, almost 250 million U.S. and Canadian residents were affected by the storm in one way or another, and at least 19 deaths were connected to the icy blast and the severe winter conditions.  

Hard-freeze warnings have been issued for all the states along the U.S. Gulf Coast, where most of the U.S. refining capacity is located.   

As of Friday, December 23, as much as 1.5 million bpd of the Gulf Coast’s refining capacity was shut down due to the freezing temperatures, per Reuters estimates.

Refineries run by Motiva Enterprises, Marathon Petroleum, and TotalEnergies outside Houston were shut late last week. Operations at other refineries in Texas, run by ExxonMobil, Valero Energy, and LyondellBasell, were also disrupted by the severe winter storm. Refinery outages were not expected to be prolonged, according to Reuters.

Fuel prices rose late last week as the storm was approaching, with U.S. gasoline prices stopping – temporarily – their decline from the past weeks.

Still, the average U.S. gasoline price surprisingly fell on Christmas Day, according to fuel savings app GasBuddy.

“After rising a few days ago, the national average is surprisingly down to $3.048 per gallon! It appears there is still a chance of a sub-$3/gal national average!” Patrick De Haan, Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy, tweeted on Sunday.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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