Hurricane Delta topples refinery, port equipment

Hurricane Delta caused power cuts and some equipment to topple over on Friday and Saturday at some US Gulf of Mexico oil refineries. The hurricane, which hit Louisiana as a Category 2, closed oil-export ports.

Nearly 700,000 homes and businesses in three Gulf Coast states were without power on Saturday after Delta made landfall overnight near the town of Creole, Louisiana.

Energy operations were disrupted as far away as Port Arthur, Texas, 65 miles west of Delta’s landfall.

Total’s 225,500 bpd refinery lost power, Valero Energy Corp’s 335,000 bpd plant lost a cooling tower. Motiva Enterprises temporarily shut a small unit at its 607,000 bpd refinery, reported Reuters, citing people familiar with operations. Total quickly launched efforts to restart the oil-processing plant.

Royal Dutch Shell’s Convent, Geismar and Norco, Louisiana, oil and chemical plants were operating normally, a spokesman said.

Three other Louisiana refineries, operated by Citgo Petroleum and Phillips 66, which were close to the storm’s track were already shut for maintenance work or from damage by a Hurricane Laura in late August.

Cheniere Energy, which operates a natural gas processing plant on the Texas-Louisiana border, was evaluating facilities on Saturday. Its Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant remained online and employees were safe, a spokeswoman said.

Oil and petrochemical ports from Beaumont, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, were shut to commercial vessels ahead of the storm and remained closed on Saturday. Houston and Galveston were open and operating normally, according to data from the US Coast Guard.

The hurricane cut most US offshore Gulf of Mexico oil output and 62% of natural gas, the Department of Interior said.

According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), 274 production platforms were evacuated and shut down in the US Gulf of Mexico prior to the storm’s arrival, taking out a near-record 92% of the region’s offshore oil capacity. By Sunday the BSEE reported that more than 75 evacuated platforms had been re-manned, but that more than 90% of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil production capacity remains shut-in.

Ports in the immediate vicinity of the storm’s passage were also affected. Cameron and Lake Charles, Louisiana – the ports nearest the point of landfall – remained closed Sunday, along with the Calcasieu Waterway. Beaumont, Orange, Port Arthur and Sabine, Texas were open with restrictions, including a draft limit and night-time navigation restrictions on the Sabine-Neches Waterway. NOAA, USACE, Coast Guard and private operators were still surveying the region’s waterways to ensure safety before a full reopening