BR.petrochem.082920 TS 913.jpg

A chemical fire at BioLab Inc. in Westlake, bottom center, occurred during Hurricane Laura at the end of August. Industrial plants across south Louisiana and offshore oil and gas industry are making preparations ahead of Hurricane Delta.

Roughly one-third of the U.S. Gulf Coast oil and gas industry's output is already battening down the hatches as Hurricane Delta approaches the region, the most precautions being taken for offshore oil platforms and drilling rigs just over a month after Hurricane Laura hit south Louisiana.

More than 540,400 barrels per day of crude oil and 232 million cubic feet per day of natural gas output have been shut in, or about 37% of the Gulf of Mexico production, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The Gulf Coast region accounts for 1.9 million barrels of daily crude oil production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Shell is preparing to shut down nine assets, and its drilling rigs are being secured before the storm, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Chevron and BP are doing much of the same, according to S&P Global Platts. 

About 4.28 million barrels of crude oil refining capacity sits along the Gulf Coast, split among Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, and is online. Another 1 million barrels worth of capacity are not operating for various reasons. 

"ExxonMobil Baton Rouge is closely monitoring Hurricane Delta, and we are making facility preparations for any severe weather associated with this storm," said Stephanie Cargile, spokesperson for ExxonMobil. "In accordance with our hurricane preparedness planning, we are working to protect critical equipment and supplies for our area facilities, including docks and terminal facilities in the Baton Rouge area. All operations remain normal, and we continue to meet contractual commitments."

Public relations consultant Jim Harris said seven industrial clients with locations in St. Charles, St. James, Ascension and Iberville parishes are in pre-hurricane mode, making preparations to shut down, but would not make a decision until Thursday morning.

Connie Fabre, president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance, said she has not heard of any plants idling, but they are implementing standard hurricane preparation procedures and could shutdown if the path comes directly over Baton Rouge. Most plants can be idled within 2-8 hours, with a few taking as long as 24 hours.

There are already several refineries still not operating after Hurricane Laura hit the Lake Charles area at the end of August. For example, Phillips 66 and Citgo are not expected back online until early December and late October, respectively, according to Platts research. Access to reliable industrial-level power and miscellaneous debris and damage are reasons.

Smaller refineries in Alabama and Mississippi were still online as of Tuesday, as were most of the Louisiana refineries, an exception being the Phillips 66 in Belle Chasse where planned maintenance is underway until November. In Texas, three major refineries in Port Arthur and another in Beaumont are still online, Platts found. 

Some petrochemical plants in Louisiana were already doing maintenance work this fall. 

NOVA Chemicals told Platts that its cracker in Ascension Parish was already shut down for planned repairs in September and now is slated to stay idled until after Hurricane Delta. 

Shintech's polyvinyl chloride plant in Plaquemine was already doing what's known as a turnaround, and its plant was shut for such work this month.

Acadiana Business Today: All areas of Acadiana could see hurricane force winds if Hurricane Delta maintains track, strength


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.