Andrew Shutters Oil Refineries, But No Damage Reported
Undated (AP) _ Hurricane Andrew forced at least a dozen oil refineries to close or cut back production, temporarily eliminating about 15 percent of the nation’s daily refining capacity.
Many of the refineries began the two- or three-day process of restarting Wednesday. Industry officials said large stockpiles of oil, gasoline and heating oil should prevent shortages from developing.
No injuries or significant damage was reported at the refineries.
The Texas and Louisiana coasts hold the largest concentration of refineries in the country, handling about 40 percent of the nation’s crude oil.
U.S. refineries are able to refine 15.6 million 42-gallon barrels of oil a day, but lost at least 2.1 million barrels of capacity because of Andrew, according to company officials and statistics provided by the American Petroleum Institute.
Many oil companies on Tuesday shuttered their refineries, which are built to withstand hurricane-force winds, as a precaution. Others had to close Wednesday morning when power from local utilities was lost. Marathon Oil Co. cut back on production at its Texas City, Texas, refinery because the storm delayed tankers bringing crude oil to the facility.
A power outage threatened to prolong the closure of one of the country’s biggest refineries - Exxon’s plant in Baton Rouge, La. - helping push gasoline and heating oil futures prices higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated Sunday and Monday. Oil company officials said Wednesday that winds in the gulf were still too strong to send aircraft to inspect the off-shore platforms.