Houston refiners weather hurricane-force winds: Update

  • Market: Crude oil, Oil products
  • 17/05/24

Adds Calcasieu comment, update on flaring reporting

Over 2mn b/d of US refining capacity faced destructive winds Thursday evening as a major storm blew through Houston, Texas, but the damage reported so far has been minimal.

Wind speeds of up to 78 mph were recorded in northeast Houston and the Houston Ship Channel — home to five refineries with a combined 1.5mn b/d of capacity — faced winds up to 74 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Further South in Galveston Bay, where Valero and Marathon Petroleum refineries total 818,000 b/d of capacity, max wind speeds of 51 mph were recorded.

Chevron's 112,000 b/d Pasadena refinery on the Ship Channel just east of downtown Houston sustained minor damage during the storm and continues to supply customers, the company said.

ExxonMobil's 564,000 b/d Baytown refinery on the Ship Channel and 369,000 b/d Beaumont, Texas, refinery further east faced no significant impact from the storm and the company continues to supply customers, a spokesperson told Argus.

Neither Phillips 66's 265,000 b/d Sweeny refinery southwest of Houston nor its 264,000 b/d Lake Charles refinery 140 miles east in Louisiana were affected by the storm, a spokesperson said.

There was no damage at Motiva's 626,000 b/d Port Arthur, Texas, refinery according to the company.

Calcasieu's 136,000 b/d refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was unaffected by the storm and operations are normal, the refiner said.

Marathon Petroleum declined to comment on operations at its 593,000 b/d Galveston Bay refinery.

Valero, LyondellBasell, Pemex, Total and Citgo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on operations at their refineries in the Houston area, Port Arthur and Lake Charles.

A roughly eight-mile portion of the Houston Ship Channel from the Sidney Sherman Bridge to Greens Bayou closed from 9pm ET 16 May to 1am ET today when two ships brokeaway from their moorings, and officials looked in a potential fuel oil spill, according to the US Coast Guard.

The portion that closed provides access to Valero's 215,000 b/d Houston refinery, LyondellBasell's 264,000 b/d Houston refinery and Chevron's Pasadena refinery.

Emissions filings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are yet to indicate the extent of any flaring and disruption to operations in the Houston area Thursday evening, but will likely be reported later Friday and over the weekend.

Gulf coast refiners ran their plants at average utilization rates of 93pc in the week ended 10 May, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), up by two percentage points from the prior week as the industry heads into the late-May Memorial Day weekend and beginning of peak summer driving season. The next EIA data release on 22 May will likely reveal any dip in Gulf coast refinery throughputs resulting from the storm.

Houston area refineries

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