HOUSTON (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp shut its 369,024 barrel per day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, crude oil refinery on Thursday because of flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda, sources familiar with plant operations said.
Other refineries in southeast Texas cut back production as heavy rain continued to fall for a second day from Houston to western Louisiana.
Spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry said Exxon’s Beaumont chemical plant adjoining the refinery was safely shut on Thursday morning.
Valero Energy Corp reduced production at its 335,000 bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery because flooded roadways made it impossible to haul sulfur away from the plant.
The gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit was running at 60% of its 110,000 bpd capacity because of a compressor outage at Lyondell Basell Industries 263,776 bpd Houston refinery.
Total SA cut coker production in half on Tuesday morning at its 225,500 bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery because heavy lightning in the area made it unsafe to operate a crane used to collect petroleum coke produced by the coker.
Ship pilots stopped boarding vessels on the Beaumont, Texas, Ship Channel because of heavy weather on that waterway connecting Beaumont with the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Eikenberry said Exxon “continues preparations for severe weather at its Beaumont complex.”
“We are communicating with federal, state and local emergency planning officials about measures we are taking to prepare for continued heavy rainfall,” he said.
Rainfall totals from Imelda reached 25 inches (64 cm) in southeast Texas by midday Thursday with heavy rain expected to continue for at least another day, according to forecasters.
Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] 607,000 bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery remained in production, but has been operating at half capacity since early September because of a planned multi-unit overhaul, sources familiar with operations said.
The Motiva Port Arthur refinery is the largest in the United States.
Officials at liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area – Cheniere Energy Inc’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Sempra Energy’s Cameron in Louisiana – said they were monitoring the storms but so far had not seen any impact on operations.
Officials at Freeport LNG were not immediately available to talk about its facility in Freeport, Texas, where the storm came ashore.
Schools were closed across southeast Texas on Thursday and houses, many recently rebuilt following 2017’s devastating Hurricane Harvey, were flooding.
Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston, Scott DiSavino in New York and Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by David Evans, Bernadette Baum and Tom Brown