By BEN LEFEBVRE and ANGEL GONZALEZ
About 1.3 million bpd of US refining capacity - nearly 8% of the
country's total - is offline, the Department of Energy said
Monday, as refiners remove employees in anticipation of
Tropical Storm Isaac making landfall within the next few
Isaac was getting better organized late Monday, blowing winds
of up to 70 miles an hour as it traveled northwest toward the
Currently about 295 miles southeast of the mouth of the
Mississippi River, Isaac is forecast to strengthen into a
hurricane by early Tuesday morning and make landfall on the
eastern Louisiana Coast by Wednesday.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning
for communities along the coastline of the eastern half of
Louisiana, and for the coastal areas of Mississippi and Alabama
and parts of western Florida.
The storm, which has already forced BP and other energy
producers to shut-in 78% of Gulf oil production and nearly
half of natural
gas production, could similarly affect US refining operations, about 19% of
which are in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Marathon Petroleum said it would shutter its 464,000 bpd
Garyville refinery in Louisiana until
after the storm had safely passed. The company later said it
hoped to continue running at reduced rates.
Meanwhile, Phillips 66 said it was in the process of
suspending operations at its 247,000 bpd Alliance refinery in
Belle Chasse, La. The company said the refinery would be
completely shut down by Monday night.
Phillips 66s Lake Charles refinery in Westlake, La.
was still running but was keeping a close eye on the storm's
progress, the company said. That refinery has the capacity to process
239,000 bpd of oil.
Elsewhere, Shell and Motiva reduced the operating rates
at their refineries in Louisiana and Alabama. Motiva's
refineries in Norco and Convent, La., and Shell's refineries
near Geismar, La., and Mobile, Ala., have a combined capacity
of about 600,000 bpd.
Shell did not say at what rates the refineries were operating
at. Motiva is a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Arabian
ExxonMobil on Monday said it was in the process of
shutting down refining operations at Chalmette Refining, a
joint venture the company owns in Louisiana along with
Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
Exxon also said it was operating its Baton Rouge, La., refining facilities at reduced rates.
On Sunday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindall said Chevron had
started shutting its 330,000 bpd refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., but a
Chevron spokesman said the plant was operating normally.
Compilation of Dow Jones Newswires