U.S. Gulf Coast refining not disrupted by oil spill
* U.S. Gulf Coast refiners monitoring the oil spill
* Shippers say operations normal at LOOP
TORONTO, May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. Gulf Coast refineries said they were still operating normally on Monday as a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana has not disrupted crude supplies.
The spread of the huge oil spill, caused two weeks ago after a BP (BP.L) drilling rig exploded and ruptured a well, has been gushing about 5,000 barrels of oil per day, creating fears it could disrupt shipping delays in a region home to about 40 percent of U.S. refining capacity.
A delay in vessel traffic, particularly the tankers delivering crude into the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, could force refiners to cut back on the crude processed.
The port, the only U.S. deepwater facility in the U.S., handles about 1 million and 1.5 million barrels per day in foreign and domestic crude from tankers and pipelines.
The LOOP is located well west of the oil leak, traders said.
While three natural gas oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have been shut as a precaution, offshore oil fields in the Gulf, which account for about a quarter of U.S. crude production, have not been affected.
"Most marine imports into the New Orleans/Baton Rouge refining zone come in through the LOOP, with other major supply by pipelines in from the offshore producing platforms - and those pipelines shouldn't be affected by the mess on the surface," said one trader. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Graphic on possible impact to U.S. refineries in Gulf: link.reuters.com/byz42k ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
Chevron Corp's (CVX.N) 330,000 bpd refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi refinery is closest in proximity to the spill but has not felt any impact to operations.
"At this time, our operations have not been affected," said Chevron spokeswoman Margaret Cooper.
Murphy Oil (MUR.N), Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N) and Motiva Enterprises, which have refineries possibly at risk from the spill, said they didn't expect any disruptions at this time.
Shell (RDSa.L) said to date the only impact on either upstream or downstream operations had been a brief shut-in of its Na Kika pipeline, which has since returned to production but that it continues to monitor operations.
"In regards to refinery operations, we are closely following the situation, including trajectory and quantity of oil released to determine any potential impact on our operations," said a spokesman for the company.
Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Aramco, operates three refineries -- two in Louisiana.
"At this time, we don't expect any disruptions to supply or production at our Gulf Coast refineries as a result of the oil spill," said Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero, the nation's largest independent refiner, which owns the 185,000 bpd in Norco, Louisiana. (Reporting by Janet McGurty; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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