[Editor’s note: This story was updated from a previous version posted at 4:05 a.m. CT Sept. 14.]
Energy companies, ports and refiners on Sept. 14 raced to complete shutdowns as Tropical Storm Sally bores in on the central U.S. Gulf Coast with expectations that it will soon become a hurricane.
The storm will disrupt oil imports and exports as the nation's sole offshore terminal, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, stopped loading and offloading tanker ships on Sept. 13 and the port of New Orleans closes Sept. 14. Numerous offshore production facilities are shutting just a few weeks after Hurricane Laura forced roughly 1.5 million bbl/d of output to close.
Sally will move over the north-central Gulf of Mexico (GoM) on Sept. 14 before becoming a hurricane as it heads toward southeastern Louisiana and western Mississippi, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Officials in the two states issued mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying areas.
The U.S. Coast Guard said all southbound vessel traffic from the port of New Orleans would be brought to a halt at noon CDT (17 GMT) on Sept. 14 and stop all traffic from the port at 6 p.m. CDT (23 GMT).
Chevron Corp., BP Plc, Equinor ASA and Murphy Oil Corp. all evacuated some offshore workers from production platforms, the companies reported. Royal Dutch Shell Plc curtailed production at its Olympus, Mars and Appomattox platforms on Sept. 14, the company said.
U.S. GoM) offshore oil production delivers about 17% of U.S. crude oil and 5% of U.S. natural gas output. As much as 1.5 million bbl/d of offshore oil production was shut in by Hurricane Laura last month.
The port of New Orleans and LOOP combined exported about 307,000 bbl/d of crude and 411,000 bbl/d of refined products and imported about 342,000 bbl/d in crude volumes in the three months through August, according to Kpler data.
Refiners in the region have also begun to wind down operations. Shell cut production to minimum rates on Sept. 14 at its 227,400 bbl/d Norco, La., refinery, including idling the refinery's crude distillation unit, said sources familiar with plant operations.
The Alliance oil refinery, which processes 255,000 bbl/d at a site on the coast of Louisiana, was shutting down, said operator Phillips 66.
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