This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 05, 2005

Interdependence Confounds Recovery from Hurricane Rita

Natural gas and oil production is recovering slowly in the Gulf of Mexico. As of October 4th, 90 percent of oil production and 72 percent of natural gas production remain out of service, according to the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI). The harder part is understanding why. One hundred and eight offshore platforms were destroyed and 53 were heavily damaged, but these are a small fraction of the 3,050 platforms that were in the path of the two hurricanes. See the DOI press release.

As indicated by reports from DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), the problems lie with infrastructure impacts all along the supply chain. As of October 4th, eight refineries remained shut down, in part because of a lack of power, while four refineries are in the process of starting up. Some crude oil pipelines are either shut or running at reduced capacity, while several refined product pipelines either lack power, lack refined products to pump, or both. Many natural gas pipelines and 21 large natural gas processing plants in the area are not active, due to damage, lack of power, or lack of natural gas. In addition, two liquefied natural gas import facilities are shut down because the navigation channels serving them are not yet open to barges. See the OE's situation reports on the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

One demonstration of this interdependence is the Nederland, Texas, oil terminal, one of the largest onshore crude oil facilities in the country. The terminal was shut down because of a lack of power, but on October 1st the owner and operator, Sunoco Logistics LLC, used onsite generators to start up one of the pipelines. Although the company expects to receive power from the electrical grid soon, only three of its seven docks are currently ready to receive vessels, and the waterway that services the facility is restricted to light vessels only. Meanwhile, Valero reports that its refineries in Krotz Springs, Louisiana, and Ardmore, Oklahoma, are running at reduced capacity as they await more crude oil from the Nederland terminal. See the press releases from Sunoco Logistics (PDF 19 KB) and Valero. Download Adobe Reader.