Refinery Update

The AP has put out a report being carried in several places including The Washington Post that updates the status of the refineries around New Orleans.
But four damaged Gulf Coast refiners look likely to remain shut for weeks or even months, taking with them more than 5 percent of U.S. capacity. . . . .Motiva Enterprises has begun to restart its 235,000 barrel a day Convent, La., refinery . . .Marathon Oil Corp. restarted its 245,000 barrel a day Garyville, La., refinery last week . . . .Motiva's 225,000 barrel a day Norco refinery and Valero Energy Corp.'s St. Charles refinery in Norco (may also restart this week).

The prospects for the other four refineries that shut down ahead of the storm are more dire.  . . .Chevron Corp.'s 325,000 barrel a day Pascagoula, Miss., facility and ConocoPhillips' 255,000 barrel a day Alliance refinery in Belle Chasse, La., have suffered "major damage," the Energy Department said.

Murphy Oil Corp.'s 120,000 barrel a day Meraux, La., refinery and the 183,000 barrel a day refinery at Chalmette, La., owned by ExxonMobil and Petroleos de Venezuela SA, suffered water damage, the DOE said. Murphy has said the flooding is a few feet deep.

In good news, the article reports that the Mississipi River has been re-opened for oil tankers as far as Baton Rouge, but only one-way. And the LOOP is up to 75% capacity.

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Hi everyone, this is my first comment, but I've been reading for a long time. I'm impressed by the content, and the variety of viewpoints expressed.

With all the attention on Katrina, has anyone heard about the latest attack in Iraq, with the headline: "Oil exports from Kirkuk halted after bomb blast: 19 policemen shot dead"?

Here's the link:

I'd noted that attack a day or so ago (the hours and days all seem to blend into one amorphous blob lately) -- not long before the Iraq attack there was also what appears on follow up reports to be a minor attack on 5 wells in Iran.

In Iraq the Kirkut area facilities come under attack on frequent basis, so an attack is not that unusual, but the timing of same with Katrina damage might be significant. Certainly those seeking to use oil as a weapon have been handed a significant opportunity by the storm, so it would make sense to assume the threat level is very high at present.

Its for this reason that I assume IEA members are authorizing the release of so much of their own reserves for US use - not so much to plug the holes left by Katrina but create a buffer in case of significant attacks elsewhere -- whether they affect the US directly or not.

No, as was pointed out in a comment when we first posted on this, the IEA response is a treaty obligation as part of the agreement that founded the Agency.  However it is largely a short term fix, so that when there are immediate problems (such as the refineries going down) there can be a re-supply over the few weeks until they can be brought back on line.  However where there are longer term issues, which are more likely to come from the loss of production in GOMEX this still gives some breathing room for alternate solutions to be developed.

While the Iraq problem is serious, we get around 600,000 bd from there, it is ongoing (supply from there has dropped from over 2 mbd down to the increasingly optimistic looking 1.5 mbd.  That is not what the IEA is all about and I would doubt that the reserves could be used for this.  However increased production from elsewhere might be.  Except that there is not a whole lot of spare production in the world right now.  As we go into the 4th Quarter it has become more common over the past few years to draw down reserves to help immediate production meet the overall demand.  This year immediate production will likely now be around 1 mbd below last year from GOMEX, and if you add in some of the depletion numbers and possible losses from terrorist attacks in the ME, current reports, from some of the Washington pundits,  that we are going to get through this without problem are going to prove to be overly optimiztic.

I monitor a website frequented by professional and amateur meteorologists (aka weather weenies). They completely predicted Katrina many days ahead of time and updated their forecasts with some accuracy onj the saturday and sunday prior. They are monitoring a tropical disturbance with some anxiety this morning. I will copy the first thread here and the overall link - although New Orleans is largely evacuated, another storm in the Gulf, or even the threat of one, will cause more energy angst.

"Yesterday, Invest.94L was designated in the southwest Atlantic. Over the past 6 hours, it has tracked to the west-southwest (258°) to 25.3N 78.7W. Its current intensity rating is 1.0. (10:42 est)

Unfortunately, based on a combination of the model guidance and historic tropical climatology, this system has high probability of threatening U.S. landfall and will likely reach at least tropical storm strength at some point. Hurricane strength is possible.

Most of the models take this system across Florida or Georgia. A few recurve it. However, the evolving synoptic situation tends to argue against recurvature for this system. In an extreme case, it could try to escape before being pulled back toward the United States ala Hurricane Dawn (1972). Given its current motion, I don't believe that scenario will play out.

Historic climatology--going back to 1940 for a somewhat larger sample--reveals that 4/5 (80%) tropical cyclones that developed in the 23.3N-27.3N/76.7W-80.7W region eventually made U.S. landfall. There is some chance that this system could well track across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. Both the BAMS and GFDL have a particularly disturbing track.

For now, I believe:

  • Invest.94L will likely threaten U.S. landfall
  • Invest.94L should become a tropical storm at some point
  • Invest.94L could eventually attain hurricane strength
  • There is a chance that Invest.94L could move into the GOM and eventually threaten a portion of the Gulf Coast."
Thanks for this link, which I will bookmark and keep an eye on. At present there is nothing suggested as a problem at the National Hurricane Center, which is normally good at picking up storms as soon as they appear threatening (and even when they don't as Lee and Maria have not been).
yes keep us updated on the stength of the disturbance and if it hits already battered oil production in the gulf.
Is this the one that the National Hurricane Center has just labelled Nate?
this is mostly a translation (albeit more readable) of the tropical weather discussion you can read online at the NHC:
MMS just posted Sept 5 shut in report:

oil 69.57%
gas 54.13%