Photo: Jon Shapley/Staff Photographer
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Hurricane Laura is expected to intensify before striking the upper part of Texas Wednesday night, and it’s causing mandatory evacuations and closures for the state’s oil industry.
The Golden Pass LNG project being jointly developed in Port Arthur by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum told Upstream Online that as of Monday evening, only a limited amount of crew members remained onsite to complete storm prep. By Monday night, the city had issued a mandatory evacuation order.
Upstream Online reported that to prepare for the storm, Golden Pass LNG has cleared barges from the off-loading facility, lowered piling rigs, closed all openings in the levee to ensure full enclosure around the site, and preparing the shoreline protection by adding rock armouring.
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Reuters reported that Laura poses the biggest threat to the oil industry since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and as of Tuesday morning, Motiva Enterprises, Total and Valero Energy had all started cutting operations at their Port Arthur refineries. The three refineries together process more than 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil.
ExxonMobil reduced production at its 369,000 bpd refinery in Beaumont. If it ends up closing, it would bring down total shutdowns to more than 1.5 million bpd.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimates that about 84.3 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down.
“There will be a significant storm surge from Galveston to the Sabine River,” DTN meteorologist Chris Kerr told Reuters. “There are ideal conditions in central and west Gulf for rapid intensification.”
Find preparation tips, alerts to follow, and more storm news in Chron.com’s Hurricane Guide.