Argus Media Limited

09/14/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/14/2021 10:41

Nicholas causes Texas power, pipeline outages: Update

Updates strorm impacts, recasts lead

Tropical storm Nicholas caused widespread power outages in the Houston, Texas, area, knocking out some pipeline operations, including a major refined products line.

The storm briefly reached hurricane status as it made landfall at about 1:30am ET 20 miles southwest of Freeport, Texas, with 75mph sustained winds. About 450,000 customers in the Houston area lost power, according to utility CenterPoint Energy.

Colonial Pipeline shut its main gasoline and distillate lines early this morning because of the power outages. The 1.5mn b/d gasoline-bearing Line 1 and 1.2mn b/d distillates-carrying Line 2 between Houston and Greensboro, North Carolina, are down, but Lines 3 and 4, which moves from Greensboro to Linden, New Jersey, and Woodbine, Maryland, have continued operations.

Other midstream operators were assessing storm damage at Texas facilities.

Enterprise Products incurred minimal damage and all of its assets are operational, the company said. Enterprise operates the Echo crude terminal in Houston, the 450,000 b/d Midland to Echo crude pipeline, and various other assets in the area.

Magellan Midstream said several of its facilities and terminals are operating normally but it was waiting for full power restoration in order 'to resume normal operations' at other assets along the Gulf Coast. The company provided no details on individual assets. Magellan operates two large Permian-to-Houston crude pipelines, the 440,000 b/d BridgeTex and the 275,000 b/d Longhorn pipeline, as well as the Magellan East Houston (MEH) terminal.

Refinery, offshore impact limited

A few of the larger refineries in Texas appear to have made it through the storm without major issues. ExxonMobil's 557,000 b/d Baytown and 362,000 b/d Beaumont refineries are operating as normal today, with 'no significant damage or flooding' observed on first checks, the company told Argus.

Assessments were ongoing at Shell's 340,000 b/d facility in Deer Park, Texas, with no serious damage observed from wind, rain or storm surge thus far.

Chevron did not lose power at its 100,000 b/d Pasadena refinery near Houston, where operations remain normal. LyondellBasell's Gulf coast assets, which include the 268,000 b/d Houston Refining facility, were undamaged, although the company shut its Matagorda polymer complex in Bay City, Texas, because of a widespread power outage.

In the offshore, Shell shut in production at its Perdido platform in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico last night because of high winds from the storm.

'Perdido is now ready to re-start contingent on power being restored at a non-Shell downstream facility that lost power during the storm,' the company said. There is no timetable on when the power will be restored.

Nicholas was expected to continue to bring strong winds and heavy rains to other key energy hubs in Texas and Louisiana today, including the Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas, area and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The storm came about two weeks after Hurricane Ida hit the coast of Louisiana, causing significant disruptions to offshore oil and gas production and refinery operations.

Ports from Corpus Christi, Texas, through Houston [were closed to incoming traffic yesterday]( The ports remain open but with restrictions this morning, according to the US Coast Guard.

Tanker lightering operations off Corpus Christi, Galveston, Texas, and Sabine Pass on the Texas/Louisiana border were discontinued as Nicholas approached and remained shut this morning.

The storm also disrupted air travel. Nearly 200 flights have been cancelled at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, with another 50 delayed as of 11am EST, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

By Eunice Bridges and Dylan Chase