As of 10 a.m. Friday, NOAA was projecting that Hurricane Rita would make landfall between Houston and Beaumont before 7 a.m. Saturday. While the Houston/Texas City and the Beaumont/Port Arthur refinery complexes would avoid a direct hit, high winds and much rain are still expected. It appears as if the Corpus Christi and San Antonio refineries would not be affected.
Portions of the Texas Gulf region will experience the onset of tropical storm force winds as early as 7 p.m. Friday. Hurricane winds will begin impacting the coast at around 2 a.m. (CDT) Saturday morning. Heavy rains are forecast to begin to affect the western and central Gulf of Mexico coastal areas today. Rita is forecast to produce 8 to 12 inches of rain with isolated amounts of 15 inches. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches will be possible across southern Louisiana. Total rain accumulations of 5 to 10 inches will be possible over eastern Texas, and central and eastern Oklahoma, Saturday through Sunday.
From the Houston Chronicle: The Texas National Guard was dispatching two 5,000-gallon tankers from Austin at daybreak today to help motorists stranded along U.S. 290, U.S. 59, and Interstate 45 as well as Interstate 10. There were reports that the tankers had already provided gas to hundreds of motorists on I-45, but callers stranded on U.S. 59 complained there were no signs of help. "We're going to have fuel there, and we're going to get them out," said Steve McCraw, state director of Homeland Security. The trucks are to work their way back toward Houston with 40,000 gallons of gasoline, and stranded motorists are asked to pop their hoods to signal they need fuel. McCraw said the state also is working with the Texas Oil and Gas Association and Texas Tank Carriers Association to transport more than 200,000 gallons of fuel provided by Exxon Mobil to refuel the National Guard tankers. Some of the fuel also is going to service stations so they can reopen. Coast Guard helicopters were flying fuel to 11 different Texas Department of Transportation locations to refuel 100 trucks that are taking gas to stranded vehicles, McCraw said.
All of the 17 refineries in or near the hurricane’s path are either shutting down or have shut down (we have been unable to get information on one refinery in the Lake Charles area.) These refineries represent 23.5 percent of total U.S. refining capacity. These include 3 in Lake Charles; 4 in Beaumont/Port Arthur; and 9 in Houston/Texas City. The Houston/Beaumont/Port Arthur areas represent 20 percent of U.S. refining capacity.
There are still 4 Katrina refineries down, representing a little more than 5 percent of U.S. refining capacity (ConocoPhillips-Belle Chasse; ExxonMobil-Chalmette; Murphy Oil-Meraux; and Chevron-Pascagoula).
The Corpus Christi refineries, which were operating at reduced levels, are resuming normal operations. The Valero Three Rivers (near San Antonio) refinery is operating at slightly reduced runs.
The following information is from the Association of Oil Pipelines:
Capline: Operating at about 75-percent normal capacity. Normal capacity is 1 million b/d. Capline system consists of 650 miles of pipeline, including the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) and Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It originates in St. James, La. and terminates in Patoka, Ill.
Centennial Pipeline: Closed. Centennial is owned by Marathon Pipeline and TEPPCO. It is a 795-mile system transporting 210,000 b/d of refined products. It originates in Beaumont and terminates in Creal Springs, Ill.
Colonial Pipeline: Operating. The Colonial system consists of more than 5,500 miles of pipeline transporting 2.3 million b/d of refined products. It originates in Houston and terminates at New York Harbor. Colonial Pipeline announced today that while its pipeline system remains capable of normal operations, the impact of Rita on Gulf Coast refineries is limiting product supplies available to Colonial. Colonial continues to make deliveries from inventories at tank farms, thereby limiting the impact on stub-line deliveries to marketing terminals. But periodic shutdowns of Colonial’s mainlines originating in Houston will be necessary today as Colonial awaits re-supply by operating refineries. Colonial anticipates it will be able to continue intermittent deliveries on its mainlines over the next several days as refineries not impacted by the storm produce additional product.
Explorer Pipeline: Closed. Explorer operates a 1,400-mile system that transports some 573,000 b/d of gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest. The pipeline serves about 10 percent of demand for liquid fuels in the Midwest. Explorer is shut down on the 28-inch and 24-inch main line systems and will remain down for hurricane preparedness. Deliveries into Houston, Dallas, Tulsa, St. Louis, and Chicago are suspended. Deliveries into Dallas on the 12-inch system will continue through Sept. 26 from inventory in tankage.
Longhorn Pipeline: Closed. A 700-mile pipeline, Longhorn can transport up to 72,000 b/d of refined products. The pipeline transports gasoline and diesel from Gulf Coast refineries to communities in West Texas and the El Paso gateway market. From there, some fuel is sent to Phoenix, Tucson and Albuquerque.
LOOP: Partial operation. LOOP was still offloading tankers as of Thursday and was delivering crude to customers. It planned to suspend marine operations as conditions deteriorate.
Magellan Pipeline: Operating, with portions closed. Magellan is a refined products system consisting of 8,500 miles of pipeline providing transportation, storage and distribution services for refined petroleum products and liquefied petroleum gases in 13 Midwestern states. The system in Texas and southern Oklahoma is idle because of lack of supply from Houston. All other refinery origins on the Magellan system are operational and are expected to maintain normal supplies to mid-west markets.
Marathon Pipeline: Portions closed. Marathon shut down its Texas City to Pasadena system as of late Wednesday. The remainder of the onshore system is operational.
Plantation: Operating. Plantation is a refined products system consisting of 3,100 miles of pipeline transporting 595,000 b/d. The line originates in Baton Rouge and terminates in the Washington, DC area.
Seaway Pipeline: Closed. Seaway operates a 500-mile system that transports 350,000 b/d from the Texas Coast to Cushing, OK.
TEPPCO Products Pipeline: Closed. All TEPPCO refined products and liquid propane gas terminals have been shut down. TEPPCO operates a 4,600-mile system that transports 330,000 b/d of refined products from Beaumont to New York. It consists of two main lines that have been shut down. TEPPCO's 16-inch line from El Dorado, KS north is available to run on a very limited basis for conventional refined products but will depend on local sources for its supply.
LOOP planned to suspend marine operations Thursday. The following ports expected to close within the next 24 hours: Port Arthur, Beaumont Strategic Military Outload Terminal, Galveston, Texas City, Houston and Lake Charles.
Houston, Port Arthur and Galveston ports import more than 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. Domestic consumption is around 20 million b/d.
The Gulf of Mexico provides 29 percent of domestic oil production and 19 percent of domestic natural gas production. Shut-ins associated with Hurricane Rita were on Friday represented 99 percent of oil production from the Gulf (1.49 million b/d) and 72 percent of daily natural gas production (7.2 billion cubic feet per day).
This is considerably higher than Monday’s figures: 55.8 percent of the daily oil production in the Gulf was shut in as a result of Katrina (837.6 thousand b/d). And, 33.7 percent of the natural gas production (3.375 billion cubic feet per day).