Nicholas causes Texas power, pipeline outages
By Eunice Bridges and Dylan Chase / Argus
Petroleumworld 09 14 2021
Tropical storm Nicholas brought widespread power outages in the Houston, Texas, area today, 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 180,000 customers in the Houston area remain without power as of 5pm ET from a high of about 450,000 earlier today, according to utility CenterPoint Energy.
Colonial Pipeline has resumed service on its 1.5mn b/d gasoline-bearing Line 1 from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina at 12:58pm ET, after shutting it and a diesel line early this morning because of power outages. The 1.2mn b/d distillates-carrying Line 2 along the same route will resume operations once product is made available from refiners, the company said.
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.
All three liquefaction trains at the Freeport LNG export terminal were off line today, likely because of power outages.
Nicholas shifted to the east before landfall, sparing a direct hit on export facilities in Corpus Christi, Texas. NuStar Energy's Corpus Christi crude export terminal was not impacted by the storm.
Moda Midstream also reported no damage or power outage at its large marine export terminal at Ingleside, near Corpus Christi. Moda has resumed crude loadings at the facility.
Refinery, offshore impact limited
Texas and Louisiana refineries appear to have made it through the storm without major issues.
Phillips 66's 247,000 b/d Sweeny Refinery in Brazoria County, Texas, is operational and conducting post-storm assessments, while its 164,000 b/d Lake Charles complex in Louisiana is also operating as normal, the company said.
Citgo's 157,500 b/d refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, was operating normally today, as was its 425,000 b/d refinery in Lake Charles.
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 lingering disruptions to offshore oil and gas production and refinery operations.
About 720,000 b/d, or 40pc, of offshore Gulf of Mexico crude output was still shut as of 12:30pm ET today, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.
Ports in the Houston area remained closed today. The Port of Houston is expected to resume cargo operations tonight and container operations tomorrow.
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 112 delayed as of 4pm ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.