Houston — US Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production shut-in numbers released Aug. 26 are unchanged from a day earlier, indicating that companies have taken all facilities along the predicted path of Hurricane Laura offline as the storm barrels towards the Texas-Louisiana coast.
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As of midday Aug. 26, US Gulf upstream operators had shut-in nearly 1.559 million b/d of oil from platforms in the region, or a bit more than 84% of the region's crude production, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in its daily update.
Operators had also shut-in 1.652 Bcf/d of gas, or nearly 61% of the region's gas output, BSEE said.
A total of 299 platforms, or nearly 47% of those in the region, have been evacuated.
The update reflects 45 companies' reports to the federal agency.
Shell, BP and Chevron shut in all or most of their Gulf production over the weekend and on Aug. 24. At the time, another storm, Marco, was also in the Gulf, but it ultimately was downgraded to a tropical depression.
Laura strengthened Aug. 26 and is now a Category 4 hurricane, the second-strongest on the five-category Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale, with winds of about 140 mph. It is predicted to hit the area late Aug. 26 or early Aug. 27 around the Texas-Louisiana border, which is home to a number of large refineries.
Seven Gulf Coast refineries offline
Seven major refinery closures from Lake Charles to Houston have taken about 2.34 million b/d in oil refining capacity offline, including the nation's largest refinery, Motiva's Port Arthur Refinery.
In addition to its Lake Charles refinery, Phillips 66 has closed its Beaumont terminal and its other Lake Charles petrochemical operations.
ExxonMobil was prepared to shutter its massive Baytown refining and petrochemical complexes nearer to Houston, but the company ultimately decided to keep Baytown up and running for now with Laura's strongest winds forecast to hit southwestern Louisiana. The same applies to ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge Refinery farther east in Louisiana.
"Our Baytown operations continue to run safely and reliably," ExxonMobil spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry said.
Shell, Valero Energy, Marathon Petroleum and LyondellBasell are monitoring their Houston area, oil refining operations, but not announcing any closures for now. The only Houston refinery to shutter thus far is Chevron's Pasadena Refinery.
Deer Park refinery to continue operating
Shell Deer Park in Houston said it plans to continue operating since Laura's landfall is expected about 130 miles to the east. However, only personnel required to prepare for landfall and to operate the facilities will be on site starting late Aug. 26.
Magellan Midstream Partners said it is closing its Galena Park crude oil and products terminal near Houston, but that its benchmark Magellan East Houston and Pasadena Texas terminals are remaining open for now.
Enterprise Products Partners was considering shuttering its massive Mont Belvieu oil and NGL hub, but is opting to keep it open for now.
"Based on current conditions, we do not plan to halt operations at Mont Belvieu," said Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey.