Texas energy firms assess damage after Hurricane Beryl batters Gulf Coast

Texas energy firms assess damage after Hurricane Beryl batters Gulf Coast

Beryl made landfall near Texas town on Monday, posing problems for the heart of the US energy sector.

The Texas energy industry was evaluating the impact from Hurricane Beryl after the powerful storm lashed the United States’ Gulf Coast, closing key shipping ports and hitting the oil refining and production sectors.

Beryl made landfall near the coastal town of Matagorda, Texas, on Monday morning, packing maximum sustained winds of 129km/h (80mph) and posing problems for the heart of the country’s energy sector.

The storm had strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before landfall, but was downgraded to a tropical storm mid-morning and expected to weaken throughout the day. It is forecast to move across eastern Texas and into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley later in the week, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Texas is the largest US oil and gas producing state, accounting for some 40 percent of oil output and 20 percent of gas production.

US crude futures CLc1 settled 83 cents lower at $82.33 a barrel on Monday as hopes of a ceasefire deal in Gaza eased global supply concerns and capped gains driven by storm-related disruptions.

US fuel futures were also trading lower as major refineries along the Gulf Coast so far appeared to see minimal impacts from the storm.

“Since the storm has threaded the needle between the two major production hubs in Corpus Christi and Houston, it seems that the threat of regional supply disruptions has passed,” said fuel marketer TAC Energy, noting that only Phillips 66’s facility in Sweeny, Texas was in the immediate path of the storm.

Phillips 66 said it was still assessing its operations following the storm.

More than 2.7 million homes and businesses in Texas were without power midday on Monday, according to PowerOutage.us. CenterPoint Energy, which provides power to the southern and eastern parts of the state, had at least 2.2 million customers without electricity, the company said.

Heavy winds swept through Houston on Monday morning as streets and waterways flooded, according to a Reuters witness and images on social media.

At least two people had died in the Houston area as a result of falling trees during the storm, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Energy industry hit

Over the weekend, the Port of Corpus Christi, the country’s leading crude oil export hub, closed operations and vessel traffic in preparation for Beryl. The ports of Houston, Galveston, Freeport and Texas City were also shut ahead of the storm’s landfall.

By midday on Monday, the Corpus Christi Ship Channel had reopened with no significant impacts from the storm reported. Some vessels were already headed back to Corpus Christi to load, according to Matt Smith, an analyst for ship tracking firm Kpler, though he warned it could take a day for congestion to normalise.

Gibson Energy said its Gateway crude export terminal in Corpus Christi was operational. Enbridge Inc, which also runs crude oil export facilities near Corpus Christi, said all of its assets, with the exception of its Tres Palacios Gas Storage facility, were operational.

Terminal operations at the Port of Houston remained suspended and could restart by Tuesday afternoon, according to a statement from the port.

“We are still dealing with rain and wind,” a spokesperson told Reuters news agency on Monday.

Shell and Chevron said they had shut production or evacuated personnel from their Gulf of Mexico offshore platforms.

The US Gulf of Mexico produces some 1.8 million barrels per day of oil, roughly 14 percent of total US output. It was not immediately clear how much production had been shut in as a result of Beryl.

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