(UPDATED at 10 a.m. local time Thursday
with new data from National Hurricane Center)
HOUSTON -- The remains of Hurricane Isaac continued
to drench much of Louisiana on Thursday morning,
bringing high winds and flooding to a region loaded with
Isaac, which weakened to a tropical storm as it traveled
inland through the state, made its final
landfall early Wednesday near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as
a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 miles/hour .
However, Isaac's eye remained near the Gulf of Mexico
and southern Louisiana marshes for several additional hours on
Wednesday. As a result, the initial weakening process was
very gradual, according to the National Hurricane Center
Complicating matters further, Isaac moved at
a crawl-like pace. For much of Wednesday, Isaac
traveled at just 6 miles/hour, as opposed to a usual
speed of 15-to-20 miles/hour for most storms.
The sluggish speed battered the New Orleans
and Baton Rouge metropolitan areas, where conditions began
deteriorating on Tuesday. Those regions were pounded by
Isaacs eastern and northern eye walls, respectively
notoriously the roughest parts of a storm.
Near 80% of the New Orleans area is without power,
according to news reports, and localized areas received up to
two feet (24 inches) of rainfall.
Refining market effects
Those conditions wreaked havoc on the numerous hydrocarbon
processing industry (HPI) facilities in coastal Louisiana.
As of Thursday, five refineries in Isaacs path said
they are shut down. Those sites have a combined output of
936,500 bpd, representing 12% of total Gulf Coast refining capacity, according to the
Department of Energy (DoE).
The five Louisiana refineries to shut down include
the Phillips 66 Alliance refinery in Belle Chasse (247,000
bpd), which on Wednesday reported that it had lost power
Other shut refineries are Valero at Norco (205,000
bpd), Motiva at Convent (235,000 bpd), Placid Refining in Port Allen (57,000 bpd)
and the ExxonMobil/PdVSA joint venture in Chalmette (189,000
Meanwhile, rates are reduced at Marathon Petroleums
Garyville refinery (490,000 bpd), Motiva at
Norco (233,500 bpd) and for ExxonMobil at its massive Baton
Rouge complex (502,500 bpd).
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday waived its clean gasoline requirements for
14 parishes in Louisiana, citing extreme and unusual
On the petrochemical side, major ethylene
units believed to be down include Dow Chemical at Taft (610,000
tpy), ExxonMobil Chemical in Baton Rouge (1 million tpy), and
the Williams/SABIC cracker in Geismar (612,000 tpy), according
to consulting firm IHS Chemical.
Dow has derivative plants in Taft for ethylene oxide,
monoethylene glycol and polyethylene that are also believed to
be down, IHS Chemical reports.
ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge has also shut down its
polyethylene, refinery-grade propylene and
Other significant petrochemical units reported to be
down include the butadiene plant of Shell Chemical in Norco and
both benzene units at the Phillips 66 Alliance site.
Gas processing, logistics closures
Enterprise Products said it has shut down all of its
processing plants in south Louisiana, strategically located
near offshore oil and gas infrastructure.
Due to storm shut-ins, there is very little output to
process. As of Wednesday, 95% of Gulf of Mexico oil production
and 72% of natural
gas production was shut, the DoE reported. At least 505
Gulf platforms (85%) and 50 rigs (66%) are evacuated.
That, in turn, has led to declarations of force majeure for
several major US pipeline systems, owing to production
The 1.2 million bpd Capline pipeline, which transports crude
to refineries in the US Midwest, was shut down late Monday.
The production numbers could improve as soon as Friday,
when Isaac is projected to be well inland and
largely disintegrated. That should allow companies to
begin re-staffing Gulf rigs and platforms.
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