Hurricane Harvey threatens vital Texas energy hub
Hurricane Harvey is barreling down on vital oil and gas facilities on the U.S. Gulf Coast that serve as the nerve center of America’s energy infrastructure.
The biggest risk is that this potential Category 3 storm causes prolonged disruptions to the critical refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, which is home to nearly one-third of the nation’s capacity to turn oil into gas, diesel and other products.
By early Friday, warnings of “life-threatening” rain from Hurricane Harvey have forced the evacuation and shutdown of several refineries. Gasoline prices immediately ratcheted steadily higher, a trend that could continue for some time depending on the severity of the damage.
Not only will the storm limit the Gulf Coast’s ability to refine oil, but it’s already shut down the flow of oil shipments in and out of the Port of Corpus Christi, the nation’s leading port for crude oil exports.
“We may have never had a storm like this. The impact on the energy industry could potentially be devastating” for the next week, John LaRue, executive director of the Port of Corpus Christi, told CNNMoney.
The port has worked all week to prepare for the storm. LaRue said pilots stopped boarding vessels Thursday afternoon and maintenance workers have tied down everything that projected winds of 125 miles per hour could “turn into missiles or projectiles.”
Hurricane Harvey also forced the shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel on Friday for incoming and outgoing vessels, Platts reported.
To meet America’s enormous appetite for oil, more than 3 million barrels of waterborne crude gets shipped to the U.S. Gulf each day from places like Mexico, Colombia and Saudi Arabia, according to ClipperData. The U.S. Gulf Coast also exports about 1 million barrels of crude each day to customers overseas.