Hurricane Harvey bearing down on area with significant oil, gas infrastructure

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 54 views 

Hurricane Harvey might impact a large amount of energy infrastructure along the Texas Gulf Coast, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico accounts for nearly 20% of all crude oil production in the United States, and the Texas Gulf Coast has nearly one-third of U.S. refining capacity.

Today (Aug. 25), or early Saturday, Hurricane Harvey is expected to make landfall in southeast Texas as a Category 3 hurricane, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If it makes landfall as projected, it would be the first Category 3 or higher hurricane to make landfall in the United States since four major hurricanes (Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma) made landfall in 2005.

The storm is expected to stall over Texas and bring prolonged periods of torrential rainfall, leading to flooding in the region. The Texas governor has declared a state of emergency for 30 counties in the path of the storm. As of Thursday (Aug. 24), several oil companies had shut in production at several facilities and evacuated workers from offshore platforms, according to the EIA.

“Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012 were the most recent hurricanes to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast, with Ike being the last hurricane to directly affect Texas,” according to the EIA. “All three storms affected oil and natural gas infrastructure in the region, each shutting in more than 1 million barrels per day of crude production and more than 3 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas production and temporarily shutting down significant pipeline and refining capacity.” Historically, nearly half of U.S. oil production comes from Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Also, about 25% of U.S. natural gas production happens in Texas.

The EIA has an energy disruptions map that shows energy infrastructure and real-time storm information. Also, the EIA’s U.S. Electric System Operating Data tool offers real-time information on electricity demand and can show where electricity service has been disrupted.