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More than a quarter of US Gulf crude still offline since hurricanes Ida and Nicholas


Texas Gulf Coast oil sector mostly back to normal

Power restoration along Louisiana Gulf Coast still ongoing

Less than 500,000 b/d of oil-refining capacity offline

About 28% of US Gulf of Mexico crude production remained offline Sept. 16 in the aftermath of hurricanes Ida and Nicholas as the offshore energy sector continued to move slowly toward a return to normalcy with an another two months left of the Atlantic storm season.

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After 95% of US Gulf oil and gas production was shut in near the end of August as Category 4 Ida made a Louisiana landfall, 513,878 b/d of crude, or 28.2%, remained offline Sept. 16, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The return of natural gas supplies continued to lag a bit more than oil. An estimated 878.6 Mcf/d, or 39.4%, of natural gas production was still shut in, BSEE said, which was roughly the same as the day prior.

Only 42, or 7.5%, of the platforms in the Gulf remained evacuated, BSEE said.

Category 1 Nicholas, which hit the Texas Gulf Coast Sept. 13, had a much more modest impact on the Western Gulf and on slowing restoration activities.

Waiting mode for Shell's Perdido

Shell said Sept. 15 that it was waiting for downstream facilities to come back online before restoring production to its 100,000 boe/d Perdido platform in the Western Gulf after Nicholas' heavy winds, and that there was no set timetable for its return.

However, Williams Cos. said late Sept. 15 that its pipeline and processing facilities were ready to receive natural gas from the Perdido platform. Shell did not immediately provide another update upon request Sept. 16.

Apart from its westernmost Perdido platform, Shell said its Appomattox, Enchilada/Salsa and Auger assets continued to ramp up production following Ida. As of Sept. 15, Shell's Mars, Ursa and Olympus assets remained shut in. Shell said damage assessments continued at its West Delta-143 offshore facility that serves as a transportation hub to onshore facilities.

Chevron said late Sept. 14 that it had redeployed essential personnel to all of its Chevron-operated facilities and restored full production at its Blind Faith asset and partial production at the Jack St. Malo, Big Foot and Tahiti platforms. Chevron said the Petronius facility is ready to produce once pipeline export routes resume operations.

Colonial product flows resume

In Texas, operations are mostly back to normal after Nicholas. Colonial Pipeline said it resumed refinery product flows on Line 2 early Sept. 15, restoring the major fuel artery to normal operations.

Colonial initially shut down both Line 1 and Line 2 from the Houston area because of customers' power outages disrupting supply chains. However, Line 1 was restored later on Sept. 14, and now Line 2 is back up and running as well.

The Colonial Pipeline is the country's primary fuel artery for much of the Southeast and the East Coast. Colonial typically delivers more than 100 million gal/d of fuels. Colonial stretches more than 5,500 miles from the Houston refining hub to New York Harbor, supplying about 45% of all the gasoline and diesel fuel consumed on the US East Coast.

Onshore in Louisiana, Chevron said it completed its assessment of its Empire Terminal and approved it for receipts. All crude deliveries from Empire are approved other than deliveries to Phillips 66's Alliance Refinery, which is expected to remain closed for some time.

Chevron said its Fourchon Terminal is approved for all deepwater sour crude receipts and deliveries.

Officials at Port Fourchon, where Ida made landfall, said water services finally were restored after some delays, although power remains down. Port tenants are continuing to assess their damage. The US Coast Guard set Port Fourchon as "port open with restrictions."

Port Fourchon also is the home of LOOP's onshore facilities, which include a booster station and Clovelly Dome Storage Terminal. LOOP, the only deepwater port in the US capable of loading VLCCs with crude, had suspended deliveries ahead of Ida. LOOP has said its "supply chain is functioning" as the offshore oil port continues to work with shippers to receive and deliver crude oil to regional refineries.

Electricity is key

Much of the return of the onshore infrastructure depends on the restoration of electricity. Primary Louisiana utility Entergy said Sept. 16 that power is restored to 93% of the customers that lost electricity.

However, nearly 50% of the hardest-hit Lafourche, St. Charles and Terrebonne parishes remained without power, including refining or port hubs in Port Fourchon and Houma, Entergy said. Nearly all of those areas are expected to receive power "no later than" Sept. 29.

Out of about 2.2 million b/d of oil refining capacity taken offline in Louisiana ahead of Ida, less than 500,000 b/d will remain offline longer term after Valero Energy finishes restarting its Meraux and St. Charles facilities.

The Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery and Shell's Norco Refinery were expected to take longer to restore because of the more extensive damages and flooding that occurred. No Texas refineries are known to have shuttered from Nicholas.