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Energy, marine facilities in Asia brace for Super Typhoon Mangkhut

Singapore — Oil refineries, power plants and port facilities in Southeast Asia and East Asia are battening down the hatches as Super Typhoon Mangkhut is expected to barrel through the region over the weekend leaving a trail of destruction.

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The tropical cyclone, comparable in severity to Hurricane Florence in the US, is expected to impact infrastructure and civilian populations in the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan and parts of southern China.

SOUTHERN CHINESE REFINERIES BRACE FOR IMPACT

Port operations in Guangdong and Hainan provinces in southern China will be stopped from Saturday afternoon and all ships will be required to leave ports for shelter on Saturday morning, according to market sources.

"All ships are required to leave ports for shelter before 4:00 pm local time Saturday," an official at Sinopec's Guangzhou refinery said Friday afternoon.

The Dayawan petrochemical park in Huizhou, Guangdong province, will stop operations from midnight on Saturday, according to an executive at China National Offshore Oil Corp's Huizhou refinery.

State-owned CNOOC's Huizhou refinery and joint venture petrochemical company CSPC, or CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Co, are both located in the petrochemical park. The CNOOC Huizhou refinery has a capacity of 440,000 b/d and CSPC has a capacity of 43,000 b/d.

Other major refineries in Guangdong and Hainan, including Sinopec's Maoming, Dongxing and Hainan refineries said they will stop loading and unloading of both trucks and ships from Saturday afternoon.

Cargo activities will resume after the typhoon has passed but the refineries do not expect their operating rates to be affected, they added. The refineries concerned have a total refining capacity of 1.4 million b/d.

On Wednesday, S&P Global Platts reported that bunkering operations at the port of Hong Kong will be disrupted due Mangkhut, which is forecast to be more powerful than any previous typhoons warranting Hong Kong's highest warning signal of No. 10.

Some traders were holding back on offers for bunker fuel in view of the predicted adverse weather conditions amid tight barge schedules.

PHILIPPINES ACTIVATES CONTINGENCY PLANS

In the Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operation Center raised its alert level to "red" earlier this week and the Department of Energy has activated its contingency plans.

"We directed the energy family and the industry players, particularly those who will be hit by the typhoon based on the forecast, to monitor and report the situation in their respective areas of responsibility," Energy Secretary Alfonso G Cusi said in statement Wednesday.

Cusi said industry players have been directed to secure the safety of personnel and facilities, as well as the strategic supply of power and oil.

"We maintain normal business operations at our Malampaya facilities. We continue to monitor the weather situation and our business continuity plan is in place," a Shell spokesperson said Friday.

Shell operates the Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project off the coast of Palawan.

Mangkhut, with a maximum wind of 287 km/h at Category 5, could have a high humanitarian impact based on its wind speed, the size of the exposed population and their vulnerability, according to Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System or GDACS, a joint initiative under the United Nations and the European Commission.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut will move across the northern part of Luzon into the South China Sea on Saturday, after which its track and wind strength may change, but it will maintain the strength of a super typhoon after entering the South China Sea, according to the latest alert from the Hong Kong Observatory on Friday afternoon.

It said Mangkhut's extensive circulation will pose a threat to the coast of Guangdong and weather in Hong Kong will deteriorate significantly on Sunday with heavy rain and storm surge.

-- Eric Yep in Singapore; analysis by Cindy Liang in Guangzhou, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com