Oil mixed as Hurricane Ida forces shutdowns and evacuations
Brent up 27c at $72.97 a barrel as US oil loses 6c at $68.68 a barrel after both hit early August highs
Tokyo — Oil prices pared early gains on Monday, off more than three-week highs reached earlier in the session as a powerful hurricane ploughing through the Gulf of Mexico forced shutdowns and evacuations of hundreds of offshore oil platforms.
US petrol prices rose more than 3% as power outages added to refinery closures on the Gulf coast.
Brent was up 27c or 0.4% at $72.97 a barrel by 5.37am. It rose more than 11% last week in anticipation of disruptions to oil production from Ida.
US oil turned negative and was down 6c at $68.68 a barrel, having jumped a little more than 10% last week.
The benchmarks hit highs not seen since early August, $73.69 and $69.64, respectively, earlier in the session, as Ida slammed into the coast near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a hub of the Gulf’s offshore energy industry.
“It’s still early days to know the full impact of Hurricane Ida,” said Vivek Dhar, commodities analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
“Oil products, like petrol and diesel, are likely to see prices rise more acutely from refinery outages, especially if there are difficulties in bringing refineries and pipelines back online,” he added.
PBF Energy’s 190,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Chalmette, Louisiana, has been shut down by a power outage caused by Ida, sources said.
Marathon Petroleum shut its 578,000 bpd operation in Garyville, Louisiana, as the storm approached.
Colonial Pipeline, the operator of the largest petroleum products pipeline in the US, said on Sunday it will temporarily halt fuel deliveries from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina due to Ida.
On the production side, energy companies had halted more than 95% of crude output, or 1.74-million bpd’s worth, in the US Gulf of Mexico by Sunday according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, as Ida headed towards drilling rigs and other infrastructure.
The Gulf supplies about 17% of the nation’s oil.
Oil and gas companies had evacuated about 300 offshore facilities and moved more than 10 drill vessels out of harm’s way, the offshore regulator said.
Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (Loop), the biggest privately owned crude terminal in the US, halted deliveries before the hurricane.
Loop is the only US terminal able to unload supertankers, handling about 10%-15% of US domestic oil, 10%-15% of its oil imports, and is connected to about half of the US refining capacity, the Port Fourchon website reads.
Ida smashed into the coast near Port Fourchon at 6.55pm on Sunday as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said, before starting to weaken.
Those who either could not or would not evacuate will have to brace for the toughest test yet of the billions of dollars spent on levee upgrades around nearby New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.
All of New Orleans has lost power after “catastrophic transmission damage”, Entergy Louisiana said.
“This is one of the strongest storms to make landfall here in modern times,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told reporters at a briefing before Ida came ashore.
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