By BEN LEFEBVRE and ALISON SIDER
HOUSTON -- US Gulf Coast oil and gas companies on Thursday
emerged from the shelter imposed by Hurricane Isaac, assessing
damages and beginning to re-staff evacuated refineries and
offshore platforms as the now-weakened storm winds its way
through central Louisiana.
Analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said that
energy markets aren't expecting lasting
disruptions, but they are looking for confirmation
of this as companies emerge from shelter.
So far, the markets are being mostly reassured. Valero
Energy said Thursday two of its Louisiana refineries that were
shut down in anticipation of the storm have sustained no major
damage and are starting to be restaffed.
The refineries, in Meraux and Norco, had been shut down early
in the week. Initial inspections have turned up minor wind
damage to the facilities but no major damage to
the refineries production units, Valero spokesman Bill
We should have a better idea in the next few days when
restart can begin,Mr. Day said.
Valeros Memphis, Tennessee, refinery continues to run at reduced
rates because of the closing of the 1.2 million bpd Capline
pipeline that provides oil to the refinery, Mr. Day said.
Oil producer Anadarko Petroleum said its remote monitoring
systems indicate that the company's deep-water oil and gas
facilities in the Gulf of Mexico are intact, and workers will
begin returning to the central Gulf Friday to do more thorough
investigations of the facilities.
Staff will return to facilities in the eastern Gulf starting
Saturday morning; operations will restart whenever pipelines
and other infrastructure allow, Anadarko said.
BP, the biggest energy producer in the Gulf, said it would
conduct flyovers of its offshore platforms as weather
Enterprise Products said it was restarting its Sea Robin
natural-gas processing plant after inspections showed the
facility was operable.
Were prepared to accept any volumes that get
shipped, Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey said.
ExxonMobil said it is assessing its Gulf facilities.
Marathon Petroleum declined to comment on the state of its
464,000 bpd refinery in Garyville, La., which it
ran at reduced rates during Isaac.
Some problems have been emerged, however. Phillips 66 said
it found some flooding at its 247,000 bpd Alliance refinery in
Belle Chasse, La., in Plaquemines Parish, the area that
suffered the initial brunt of the hurricane.
Refinery personnel are working to
prevent more flooding and to pump water out of the flooded
areas, the company said.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, where giant tankers unload
overseas crude oil, resumed delivering oil Wednesday night from
its St. James, La., facility, spokeswoman Barb Hestermann said
Ms. Hestermann said the weather has cleared enough to allow
workers to start assessing the port's onshore facilities, and
there are plans to do an assessment of the marine terminal as
The port lost power during the storm and, though power
hasn't been restored to all the port's facilities, backup generators are
working, Ms. Hestermann said.
Futures markets in New York have reacted calmly to the
storm. Crude oil is down 1.31% at $94.24 Thursday, and gasoline
futures are down 0.42% at $2.90/gal. Last Friday, before the
storms final path was clear, gasoline futures in New York
were trading at $3.08.
However, average prices at the pump Thursday were 11 cents
higher for the week at $3.83/gal, according to AAAs Daily
Avery Ash, manager of regulatory affairs at the Automobile
Association of America, said the increase was due to a jump
earlier this week in the wholesale price that has taken awhile
to make its way to the pump. That price rise was due to earlier
uncertainty about the storms effects.
As of Wednesday afternoon, refiners had shut down about
936,500 bpd of refining capacity, or 5.4% of the
nation's total, according to a tally by the US Department of
Also, more than 1.3 million bpd of oil production in the
Gulfs federal waters, or nearly 95% of the total, were
shut in, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.
About 3.2 billion cubic feet/day of natural gas, or 72% of
total production, was suspended, the BSEE said.
The Department of Energy said Thursday that about 39% of
Louisiana electric customers were without power. About 11% of
electric customers in Mississippi had also lost power, the DOE
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