Hurricanes, Earthquake Force Oil Shutdowns

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hurricaneHurricane Irma has prompted the shutdown of at least two oil storage complexes in the Caribbean, with a combined capacity of 18.6 million barrels, S&P Platts reports. One of these, a 14-million-barrel terminal on the island of St Eustatius operated by NuStar Energy sustained damages to some of its tanks and other equipment, the company said.

The other facility, Buckeye Partners’ Yabucoa storage complex in Puerto Rico, was shut down on Tuesday and the company is now preparing its 26.2-million-barrel storage facility on Grand Bahama Island for the hurricane. Statoil, which also has a storage site in Freeport on Grand Bahama, is monitoring developments but has not yet closed the facility.

The hurricane, which has already caused 14 deaths in the Caribbean, is moving toward Florida and is expected to make landfall on Sunday, passing through the Bahamas and Cuba en route. Some 1.2 million people have been affected by Irma so far, according to Red Cross data, and this number could shoot up to 26 million as a result of the damage done by the storm.

In Florida, ports will start closing today ahead of the storm, and this could disrupt the supply of oil products, Platts notes. Florida receives 97 percent of its oil products by sea, with throughput at Port Everglades, in eastern Florida, at 121.07 million barrels last year. Port Everglades is among the terminals that will be closed.

Already in some parts of the state, fuel retailers are reporting shortages as people stock up on gasoline ahead of Irma’s arrival and evacuate. Meanwhile, two more storms are brewing in the region, with the US National Hurricane Center expecting Jose to intensify to a major hurricane by the end of the day today. The other one, Katia, is in the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach the Mexican coast late today or early tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a magnitude-8 earthquake in Mexico that prompted a tsunami warning has shut down the Salina Cruz oil refinery. The measure was precautionary, President Enrique Pena Nieto said.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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