Hurricane Harvey shuts many Texas oil, gas and chemical operations
29 August 2017
Severe weather, heavy rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey have caused widespread refinery and chemical plant shutdowns on the US Gulf Coast, the USA's main downstream hub. The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement also said workers had been removed from 86 of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, representing around 22% of the basin’s oil & gas production.
By August 28, the following companies had announced major refinery and plant closures: Ascend, American Acryl Bayport, Celanese, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Citgo, Dow Seadrift, Enterprise, ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, Formosa Plastics, Huntsman, Indorama, INEOS, Invista, Javelina, LyondellBasell, OxyChem, Petrobras, Phillips 66, Shell, TPC and Valero.
There have been reports of damage due to the high winds and floods. Exxon said a roof at its Baytown refinery "partially sank" because of heavy rain and chemicals could be released into the air.
Offshore, Exxon Mobil closed two of its platforms and was evacuating all personnel in the expected path of the storm, Shell halted operations on a big floating oil-production platform, and Anadarko evacuated workers and shut down four facilities in the western Gulf.
Onshore, ConocoPhillips stopped all operations in the Eagle Ford shale formation, which lies across a sweep of South Texas inland from the Gulf.
These closures are expected to have an immediate effect on fuel and chemical prices. The plants in the area hit directly by the storm are responsible for roughly 25% of the United States’s petroleum refining, more than 44% of its ethylene production, 40% of its specialty chemical feed stock and more than half of its jet fuel.
There were also reports of leaks from infrastructure in the petrochemical district, about 20 miles east of downtown Houston. Firefighters and hazmat teams contained an anhydrous hydrogen chloride chemical spill after a pipeline ruptured and residents of La Porte, Baytown and Shoreacres were warned to shelter in place. No injuries were reported.
There were several other reports of unusually strong chemical smells drifting across Houston and Corpus Christi, both badly affected by flooding.