Energy assess damage from Sally; TS Beta now a threat

Energy producers in the Gulf of Mexico and exporters onshore were assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Sally, whose main impact was via torrents of water on land because it was particularly slow-moving.

They had begun to boot up idle Gulf of Mexico operations after shutting down for five days, but Tropical Storm Beta has since emerged as a threat in the south of the Gulf. It could hit Texas later this week.

Sally, which badly affected Alabama, Georgia and the Florida panhandle, became a tropical depression last Thursday September 17th.

Crews returned to at least 30 offshore oil and gas platforms. Equinor and Chevron Corp began restaffing platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, following Murphy Oil Corp’s restart this week.

Bristow Group, which transports oil workers from a Galliano, Louisiana, heliport, resumed crew-change flights to facilities in the west and central Gulf of Mexico.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a deepwater oil port that handles supertankers, reopened its marine terminal after suspending operations over the weekend.

Sally had shut down more than half a million bpd in production and 805mft3 of natural gas. That makes up more than 25% of US Gulf of Mexico output. Petrochemical exports all along the Gulf Coast were halted for several days.

About 1.4m bpd of US Gulf Coast refining capacity at six refineries remained offline on Thursday, according to the US Energy Department. That total included two plants under repair since Hurricane Laura and another that had halted anyway because of weak demand.

Phillips 66, which shut its 255,600-bpd Alliance, Louisiana, oil refinery ahead of the storm, said it was advancing planned maintenance at the facility and would keep processing halted.

Royal Dutch Shell’s Mobile, Alabama, chemical plant and refinery reported no serious damage from an initial survey, the company said. Chevron said its Pascagoula, Mississippi, oil refinery operated normally through the storm.

Shell will keep the crude distillation unit, alkylation unit and reformer shut for at least a week at its 227,400-bpd Norco, Louisiana, refinery for short-term maintenance work, reported Reuters, citing unnamed sources.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Beta was expected to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall later in Texas this week. Both the city of Galveston and Galveston County on Saturday September 19th issued voluntary evacuation orders ahead of Beta, as did the city of Seabrook to the north of Galveston.

High tides and up to 10 inches of expected rain would leave roads impassable, especially along the city’s west end and low-lying areas, authorities said.

On Saturday Tropical Storm Beta was strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico some 307 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas and 245 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, the US National Hurricane Centre said in an advisory.

The storm was forecast to become a hurricane on Sunday and triggered a tropical storm warning from Port Aransas, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.

Finally, Hurricane Teddy, which had strengthened to Hurricane Force 4 and which had been threatening Bermuda, was now expected to skirt the island, although it could still bring tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain to the island over a sustained period of time on Sunday evening.