Hurricane Nate Could Cause Nearly $4 Billion In Damage Along Gulf Coast

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Analysts believe Hurricane Nate could cause more than $4 billion in damage and take nearly 45 percent of the U.S. oil refineries in the Gulf coast out of commission.

Nate, a Category 1 hurricane barreling through the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to cause as much as $4 billion in economic loss across an area dotted with casinos and resorts. Only $1 billion of those losses would insured, according to analysts who measure damage from hurricanes.

“With Nate the big thing is you’ve got those tourist areas, the casinos and stuff, along the coast,” Chuck Watson, a damage modeler with Enki Research, told reporters Saturday. “Damage will be concentrated right on the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama.”

Nate is responsible for killing at least 22 people in floods across Central America earlier this week. It’s one of about 14 other monster storms to plow through the Atlantic since late August.

Hurricane Harvey was the last major storm to run pell-mell through the Gulf on its way to the southeaster portion of Texas.

Twelve casinos stretch along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and about 76,000 homes from Louisiana to Florida that could cost $16 billion to rebuild once Nate makes landfall Saturday night, according to CoreLogic, a property analytics company based in California.

Oil and gas producers and drillers such as BP and Chevron are evacuating the area and shutting energy platforms in the Gulf. Phillips 66, meanwhile, plans to take offline the Alliance plant near New Orleans. Similar platforms in the Gulf of Mexico account for about 17 percent of total U.S. oil output.

Roughly 45 percent of crude oil refining capacity is on the coast. Gulf gas output may drop as much as 1.4 billion cubic feet a day, according to Shunondo Basu, an analyst with Bloomberg. Hurricanes Harvey wreaked havoc on energy producers across Texas last month as well.

Harvey damaged some energy producers bad enough to prompt the Energy Department to tap the U.S. strategic oil reserves. The agency made the deliver to a Phillips 66 refinery in Louisiana, which managed to escape Harvey’s wrath.

Harvey has taken a cudgel to the county’s oil industry. Shell and ExxonMobil plants, for instance, faced shutdowns during Harvey’s four-day stay in Texas. Shell was forced to shut down the Deer Park refinery in southeastern Houston, which supplies more than 340,000 barrels of oil per day.

Exxon, meanwhile, also temporarily shuttered a massive plant in Baytown, Texas, with a capacity of more than 560,000 barrels per day, according to reports from CNBC.

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