Gustav idles 12% of US refining capacity

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 1 -- Twelve Gulf Coast refineries with combined capacities representing 12% of the US total were idle Sept. 1 because of Hurricane Gustav.

Ten other refineries had reduced operations because of the storm, reported the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

The refinery outages totaled nearly 2.1 million b/d. As of Jan. 1, according to Oil & Gas Journal, the US had 17.45 million b/d of refining capacity.

All but one of the closed refineries are in Louisiana. The exception is the 232,000 b/d Total Petrochemicals refinery in Port Arthur, Tex. Refineries reducing runs are in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

Earlier, the Minerals Management Service reported storm-related shut-in production of 1.25 million b/d of oil and nearly 6.1 bcfd of natural gas. The storm made landfall Sept. 1 near Morgan City, La. (OGJ Online Sept. 1, 2008).

Other closures included the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port; the Capline and LoCap crude oil pipelines, with capacities of 1.2 million b/d each; and the 210,000 b/d Centennial product pipeline.

Nineteen of the 22 major gas pipelines serving the gulf had declared force majeure, idling operations an all offshore segments of their systems.

The Sabine Pipeline gas system declared force majeure because of mandatory evacuations in Vermilion Parish, location of all of its receipt and delivery points and of the Henry Hub interconnection, the delivery point for gas-futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Also closed were the Strategic Petroleum Reserve facilities at Bayou Choctaw and West Hackberry, La., and at Big Hill, Tex. The Bryan Mound, Tex., SPR facility remained in operation.

The DOE office noted that 28 major gas processing plants lie in the path of the storm and were shutting down because of mandatory evacuations in Louisiana and shut-down of gathering lines.

The day before the storm hit, the Coast Guard closed all waterways in Southeast Louisiana, including the Port of New Orleans, Port of Baton Rouge, and Port Fourchon.

Also before the storm hit, the Environmental Protection Agency waived volatility limits for gasoline in 16 Louisiana parishes through Sept. 8 and waived requirements for low-volatility or reformulated gasoline in Texas through Sept. 10. The waivers will help emergency movements of fuel into areas served by refineries idled by the hurricane.

The DOE office reported electricity outages for 354,411 customers in Louisiana, 17% of the state total, as of midday Sept. 1. Mississippi outages affected 3,547 customers.

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