Gulf Coast making progress on restarting after Harvey

By Patrick C. Miller | September 05, 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported Monday that the oil and gas industry is making progress on recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Harvey which struck southern Texas on Aug. 25.

DOE said eight refineries representing more than 18 percent of the total Gulf Coast refining capacity are in the process of restarting after being shut down by the storm. Four refineries were operating at reduced rates and—as of Monday—none had yet returned to normal operating capacity. The agency said it could take several days or weeks to start producing refined products, depending whether damage is found during restart.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported that as of Monday afternoon, 121,484 barrels per day (6.94 percent) of oil production and 259.2 million cubic feet per day (8.05 percent) of natural gas production in the federally administered areas of the Gulf of Mexico remained shut-in.

In response to the impacts from Hurricane Harvey, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to negotiate and execute emergency exchange agreements with three refiners to provide 5.3 million barrels of crude.

DOE said the Colonial Pipeline—serving the East Coast—continues to ship as much gasoline and refined products as available from Louisiana-based refineries and other refineries on the Colonial system east of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It will continue to do so as markets return to normal, according to the agency.

Colonial restoration crews are assessing facilities and pipeline right-of-way to ensure that conditions are safe for a restart of operations from Houston and Pasadena, Texas. On Tuesday afternoon, Colonial Pipeline’s Line 1 was restarted between Houston and Lake Charles.  

Of 26 refineries connected to the Colonial system, 13 are located between Houston and Lake Charles. DOE emphasized that the Colonial Pipeline is one part of the fuel delivery system and noted that there are multiple means of supplying the market to mitigate concerns with supply, including other pipelines, trucks, and barges.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported on Monday that ships were entering and exiting the Houston Shipping Channel. The channel is open to just past ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery to vessels up to a 40-foot draft. Eleven ports are closed or open with restrictions.