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Asia's energy, transport infrastructure grapples with Super Typhoon aftermath

London — Authorities in Philippines and southern China grappled with the aftermath of Super Typhoon Mangkhut that wreaked havoc in the region over the weekend, with power grids and transportation facilities such as ports and roads bearing the brunt of the tropical cyclone.

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Initial surveys on Monday showed that oil refineries and nuclear power plants in the path of Mangkhut did not suffer any catastrophic damage, but large swathes of affected areas remained without electricity, and transportation infrastructure suffered extensive damage.

Oil refineries in southern China were still assessing the condition of ports linked to the refineries and the authorities in Hong Kong were working to open roads and bridges blocked with debris. By the Asian afternoon Monday, the Hong Kong Observatory said Mangkhut had weakened into a tropical depression and had left Hong Kong, moving across southern China and gradually weakening.

In Philippines, local media reports said there was widespread damage to roads and communications, preventing the restoration of power supply. The Department of Energy was trying to restore power at government centers involved in emergency response such as hospitals and evacuation hubs, it said Sunday.

It said for the downstream oil sector, monitoring of oil companies indicated sufficient supply of products, with stocks ranging from two to 15 days, depending on the area.

The Cagayan province in Philippines, where Super Typhoon Ompong, the local name for Mangkhut, made landfall over the weekend, has implemented a price freeze on household LPG and kerosene products for 15 days, the DOE said.

Southern China impact

In southern China, state media had dubbed Mangkhut the "king of storms" and said more than 2.52 million people were evacuated and over 48,000 fishing boats called back to port in Guangdong province on Sunday.

The Sinopec Guangzhou refinery, with a capacity of 265,000 b/d, had lowered daily run rates by 20% on Sunday due to the typhoon, but restored normal operations by Monday, according to market sources.

However, the pump house and instrument room at the refinery's dock in the port of Huangpu, which mainly handles oil product loading and unloading operations, have been flooded and are currently inoperable, the sources said.

They said there was no timeline for resuming operations at the dock, but the refinery expects its marine facilities to be repaired soon and oil product exports will not be affected this month.

Meanwhile, truck loading and unloading operations at the refinery resumed Monday morning. Last week, several major refineries in Guangdong and Hainan had stopped movement of trucks and ships from Saturday.

Sinopec Guangzhou's marine dock in the port of Huizhou, which is used for receiving crude oil shipments, was not affected by the typhoon, the refinery source said, adding that ports in Guangzhou are expected to resume operation on Monday.

A source with Sinopec's Zhanjiang Dongxing refinery, which has a capacity of 100,000 b/d, said it had lowered daily run rates by around 10% on Sunday due to typhoon Mangkhut. The refinery resumed normal operations on Monday and port operations in Zhanjiang are also expected to resume later in the day, the source said.

Refinery operations at Sinopec's Hainan (185,000 b/d) and Maoming (361,000 b/d) refineries were not affected by typhoon Mangkhut, while port and truck loading and unloading operations would resume Monday, according to sources with the two refineries.

CNOOC Huizhou, with a capacity of 441,000 b/d, has lowered daily run rates by around 5% since Sunday, according to a source close to the refinery, but the refinery had earlier plans to lower September crude runs to 87% from 93% anyway.

Two downstream units-LDPE and HDPE--at CSPC, or CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Co, were temporarily shut Sunday due to typhoon Mangkhut but they resumed normal operations Monday, according to a source with the petrochemical complex. However, port operations at CSPC had not resumed Monday, the source said.

Transportation bottlenecks

Bunker operations at the port of Hong Kong were also suspended Monday due to Mangkhut, according to one local supplier, even as the Hong Kong Observatory lowered the typhoon warning from strong winds signal T3 to standby signal T1 at 2:40 pm local time (0640 GMT). Suppliers said terminal and barge congestion are expected when operations resume, most likely on Tuesday.

One dirty tanker charterer said that his shipments in southern China were affected due to the typhoon and various options were being explored for the delivery delayed cargoes. Port agents have reported longer waiting times and vessel cues at affected ports that will cause demurrage losses.

However, most market participants observed little impact on their shipments Monday, and one Aframax owner said ports in Guangzhou which were closed since last Friday have started reopening now.

Transportation bottlenecks appeared to be the major disruption for other industries as well.

"Maybe deliveries on the roads have been slightly affected, but nothing has impacted production or prices so far. It's just raining now," a source from aluminum smelter Guangxi Yinhai said. "We've not heard any other aluminum producer in the region affected much either," he added.

A source from Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) agreed, saying: "Transport has been affected, but we're not certain if any production has been impacted yet. If production is affected, that will definitely impact prices."

Additionally, China General Nuclear Power Corp's four nuclear power bases in southern China, which have 18 nuclear power units, were operating safely and have not been affected by the typhoon, state-media said citing company officials.

-- Eric Yep,

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart,