Hurricane set to menace Texas-Louisiana coast: Update 2

Adds context throughout.

Hurricane Laura strengthened today on its path to menace about 10pc of the nation's refining capacity and ports that move 20pc of US crude exports with pummeling winds and deadly flooding.

The storm reached wind speeds of 140mph (225km/h) and pushed storm surge forecasts as high as 20 feet in some locations as it churned toward energy infrastructure between Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Ports responsible for 40pc of US crude exports this year closed, with facilities responsible for 20pc of exports in a direct path of the storm. All 2.2mn b/d of refining capacity in the direct path of the storm confirmed shutting operations ahead of landfall expected late tonight or early tomorrow. Scheduled flows to US LNG export terminals today fell below 3 Bcf/d (85mn m³/d), down from an average of 4.7 Bcf/d last week.

The Port of Beaumont accounted for 13pc of the 3.2mn b/d of US crude exports over the first six months of the year, and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which closed earlier this week, another 7pc. Terminals at Beaumont are a destination for Bakken crude and other domestic grades.

Laura's track drifted east from earlier forecasts that saw the storm more directly pummeling another 2.3mn b/d of refining capacity and additional crude export infrastructure near Houston, Texas. More than 15pc of US refining capacity has already idled or reduced rates to secure facilities and workers ahead of the storm. The Houston Ship Channel, responsible for about 21pc of crude exports in the first half of this year, shut today as Laura approached.

Floodwaters, power outages and debris from major hurricanes can disrupt onshore and port operations for at least a week after landfall, depending on the storm's ultimate severity. Products pipelines may continue to operate using backup generators, so long as they continue to receive supplies.

Laura already shut around 84pc — or 1.6mn b/d — of US Gulf of Mexico crude production, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Hurricane Laura shuts US refineries'000 b/d
RefinerCapacity
Shut or reduced capacity
Citgo Lake Charles425.0
Phillips 66 Lake Charles249.0
Motiva Port Arthur600.0
Total Port Arthur240.0
ExxonMobil Beaumont362.0
Marathon Petroleum Galveston Bay585.0
Valero Port Arthur325.0
Chevron Pasadena100.0
Total2,886.0
Other capacity
Valero Houston191.0
Valero Texas City225.0
Shell-Pemex Deer Park340.0
ExxonMobil Baytown560.5
ExxonMobil Baton Rouge502.5
Delek Krotz Springs80.0
All capacity4,785.0