Hurricane Harvey Impact On Gulf Coast Refiners Similar To Katrina

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By Tsvetana Paraskova, Oilprice.com

Refinery runs in the Gulf Coast returning to the levels seen before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston on August 25, but the scale and duration of refinery operations curtailment has been similar to the disruptions in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008, the EIA said on Thursday.

A little more than half of all U.S. refinery capacity is located in the Gulf Coast region, while Texas alone accounts for 31 percent of all U.S. refinery capacity, according to EIA data from January 2017.

For the week that ended on October 20, Gulf Coast refinery runs averaged 8.8 million bpd, which was around 324,000 bpd higher than the previous five-year range for mid-October, EIA said.

Before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana, refinery runs in the Gulf Coast had been running higher than the five-year average for most of this year.

At the end of May and early June, refinery runs in the whole of the U.S. were running at record rates, with a record high 17.7 million bpd for the week that ended on May 26.

“Weekly U.S. refinery runs have exceeded 17 million b/d only 24 times since EIA began publishing the data series in 1990, and all of those instances have occurred since July 2015,” EIA said in June.

During and after Hurricane Harvey, many refineries in the Gulf Coast either reduced runs or temporarily shut down. In the first week following the landfall, gross inputs to Gulf Coast refineries dropped by 3.2 million bpd, or by 34 percent, compared to the prior week. On the second week after Harvey made landfall, Gulf Coast refinery runs declined by another 263,000 bpd to 5.9 million bpd—the lowest weekly value since Hurricanes Gustav and Ike disrupted refinery operations in September 2008, according to EIA data.

Gulf Coast refineries were increasing runs in late September and early October, before Hurricane Nate caused disruptions again in the week that ended on October 13.

“Overall, the magnitude and duration of Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Gulf Coast refinery runs has been similar to what happened following Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008,” the EIA concluded.

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