Aug 29, 2017

Harvey's energy toll

Here's a few more snapshots of where there things stand along with Gulf Coast energy systems hammered by Harvey.

Refineries: As of yesterday afternoon, 10 refineries in the Corpus Christi and Houston area are offline, with a combined capacity of roughly 2.2 million barrels per day, or roughly 12 percent of the U.S total, according to an Energy Department report. (Note: there are varying estimates and some put the number higher.)

  • Check out the chart above to see where refineries are closed amid massive rainfall and facilities that are in the path of what's now Tropical Storm Harvey.
  • In addition, DOE reports that three Houston-region refineries, and one in the Beaumont/Port Arthur region are operating at reduced levels, and two others in that Beaumont region are weighing a shutdown.
  • One to watch: Via Reuters, Motiva is expected to make a decision this morning about whether it needs to halt operations at its 603,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Port Arthur, the nation's largest.

Gasoline: Prices are climbing as the storm hamstrings refining, crude oil and pipeline networks in the region.

According to AAA, the average nationwide price for regular gas as of early this morning was $2.38 per gallon, which is several cents higher than it was a week ago.

  • "Despite the country's overall oil and gasoline inventories being at or above 5-year highs, until there is clear picture of damage and an idea when refineries can return to full operational status, gas prices will continue to increase," said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano in a release yesterday.

Offshore: The latest Interior Department update yesterday shows that offshore oil-and-gas production shut-in due to Harvey is starting to come back.

Roughly 331,000 barrels of oil production, or around 19 percent, of Gulf of Mexico output were shut-in, a dip from the roughly 379,000 barrels offline in the prior day's update. Offshore gas production that had been shut-in is also coming back.

Power: Roughly 300,000 people remain without power. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state's grid, also said in an update yesterday afternoon that a number of major transmission lines remain out of service.

Perspective: Bloomberg's Liam Denning has an interesting analysis that shows why natural gas prices have not spiked the way they did when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the region 12 years ago.

The short answer: the onshore shale gas boom in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, combined with declining offshore gas production. Also, onshore gas production in Texas and Louisiana how has a much lower share of total U.S. output.

  • According to Barclays, offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico now accounts for just 4% of U.S. natural gas production, compared to 26% in 2001.

The global picture: A Barclays research note Tuesday morning looks at how Harvey's reach extends all the way to OPEC . . .

  • "In the coming weeks, we expect Hurricane Harvey's impact to make it harder for OPEC to rebalance the market and maintain bullish sentiment . Disruptions to refineries, production and trade will also make the weekly EIA data even noisier and less useful as a high frequency indicator at the very time OPEC needs it most," they note.
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