America’s Largest Refinery Threatened by Hurricane Harvey

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America’s largest refinery, Port Arthur, was hit by Hurricane Harvey today. The location, owned by Saudi Aramco, can refine as much as 600,000 barrels a day. The threat to the refinery shows how serious the storm is, as its shutters millions of barrels a day of refinery capacity.

Royal Dutch Shell owned half of the location, part of the Motiva Enterprises company, which holds the assets of Port Arthur, just months ago. Shell announced:

Saudi Aramco (through its wholly owned Saudi Refining, Inc. subsidiary) assumes full ownership of the Motiva Enterprises LLC name and legal entity, including the refinery at Port Arthur, Texas and 24 distribution terminals.

The refinery is part of a complex that started in 1902. The current location was finished in 2012. About 1,200 people are employed at the location.

Port Arthur Refinery is out of the direct path of the storm, for now. It is just southeast of Houston, well north on the Texas coast from where Harvey went ashore near Corpus Christie. However, the storm is expected to roll east toward Louisiana, which means the refinery location will be directly in its path. Rainfall in the area could reach two feet, in addition to a huge storm surge of as much as four feet. Harvey likely will remain along that portion of the coast for several days, pounding Port Arthur with high winds and rain.

According to Weather.com:

With Harvey stalling several days, prolific rainfall, capable of catastrophic flash flooding, will result near the middle and upper Texas coast.

For now, areas near the Texas and southwest Louisiana Gulf coasts are in the biggest threat area for torrential rainfall and major flash flooding, potentially including Houston and Corpus Christi.

Local National Weather Service (NWS) offices have not minced words about the threat, warning of “some structures becoming uninhabitable or washed away” and “numerous road and bridge closures with some weakened or washed out,” with record river flooding expected in some areas.

Harvey’s heavy rain may not entirely exit the areas of Texas it soaks until sometime next Thursday, and may not exit the Mississippi Valley until next Friday.

The Port Arthur refinery could be damaged. At the very least, it will not be open for over a week, and perhaps longer.

Source: S&P Platts Global