Energy

Here’s A Breakdown Of Harvey’s Impacts On American Energy

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Tropical Storm Harvey is lingering over southeastern Texas, plunging hundreds of thousands of residents into darkness and shutting in oil refineries and offshore drilling platforms.

Harvey made landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane, the largest storm to strike the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004. Harvey is the first major hurricane — Category 3 or higher — to make U.S. landfall in 12 years.

The greater Houston area is in the midst of its wettest month on record thanks to Harvey, forcing thousands to leave their flooded homes.

Rescuers have pulled more than 2,000 people stranded in their homes and cars as flood waters rose. Eight people have died so far, according to reports.

Aside from the human toll and property damage, Harvey has put tremendous stress on a major hub for U.S. energy production. Here’s a breakdown of Harvey’s toll on the energy industry:

Refining

At least 2.2 million barrels per day of refining capacity has been shut in along the Gulf Coast, which happens to be a refining power house. Texas oil refineries closed down due to flooding, and so far no damage has been reported, according to Platts.

Texas has a more than 4.9 million-barrel-per-day refining capacity, so about 45 percent of the state’s capacity is shut in. No ships are coming in and out of Houston or Galveston, so U.S. exports will be delayed. Some pipelines have also been shut down for the storm.

In total, about 12 percent of the country’s refining capacity is offline, and it’s somewhat being reflected in gas prices.

Offshore Drilling

The Interior Department reports 98 offshore oil and gas platforms have been evacuated as of Monday. That’s about 13 percent of all the platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The department also report five rigs have been evacuated.

In terms of production, more than 331,000 barrels per day, or nearly 19 percent, of production were shut in as of Monday. More than 538 million cubic feet per day, or 18 percent, of offshore natural gas production shut down as well.

More oil and natural gas production was shut in on Saturday, according to federal figures. About 25 percent of offshore oil and natural gas production went offline as Hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas. Harvey has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Luckily, Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production is a smaller share of total U.S. production thanks to the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. That means energy prices may not spike as much as they have after past major Gulf hurricanes.

Electricity

Texas grid operators reported two major transmission lines are out of commissions along with 6,700 megawatts of power capacity. Electricity demand has been way lower, obviously, as thousands of homes and businesses flooded. You can imagine how many power lines have also been demolished by high winds and flooding.

About 300,000 Texans have no electricity.

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