Louisiana refinery preps for restart as Storm Barry blows over

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Phillips 66 was preparing on Sunday to begin a restart on Monday of its southeast Louisiana refinery, which was shut because of the threat of Tropical Storm Barry, the company said.

The Phillips 66 Lake Charles Refinery is pictured in West Lake, Louisiana, U.S., June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Barry has shut in 73%, or 1.38 million barrels per day (bpd), of crude oil production in the U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said on Sunday. That is a 3 percentage point increase from Saturday.

Hurricane Barry weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday, after a westward shift that appeared to spare low-lying New Orleans from the massive flooding feared earlier this week.

Five of seven other refineries in southeast Louisiana drenched by Barry’s passage were still in operation on Sunday, said their owners and/or sources familiar with operations at the plants.

Phillips 66 shut the 253,600 bpd Alliance, Louisiana, refinery on Friday due to the risk of flooding and a mandatory evacuation order for residents of Plaquemines Parish, where the refinery is located along the Mississippi River.

At Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 225,300 bpd Norco, Louisiana, refinery a power pole broke, but production was not affected, said sources familiar with plant operations.

Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said the storm did not affect operations at the Norco refinery and Shell’s 211,270 bpd Convent, Louisiana, refinery.

Exxon Mobil Corp’s 502,500 bpd Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery was operating normally on Sunday, said company spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry.

Both Valero Energy Corp’s 125,000 bpd Meraux, Louisiana, refinery and PBF Energy’s 190,000 bpd Chalmette, Louisiana, refinery were also running as planned on Sunday, sources said.

The Chalmette refinery, located on the east side of New Orleans, cut production by a small amount on Saturday to stretch its on-hand crude supply.

The U.S. Coast Guard reopened the port of New Orleans on Sunday.

A Marathon Petroleum Corp spokesman did not reply to a request for comment about the status of the company’s 564,000 bpd Garyville, Louisiana, refinery.

A Valero spokeswoman did not reply to a message requesting the status of the 215,000 bpd St. Charles Refinery in Norco.

BSEE also said 62% of daily natural gas output from the Gulf was shut.

Exxon’s Eikenberry said the company was assessing the status of offshore and onshore operations on Sunday to determine if employees could safely return and begin restarting.

As of 1 p.m. CDT (1800 GMT) on Sunday Tropical Storm Barry was 15 miles east of Shreveport, Louisiana, and moving north with sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kph).

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Rosalba O’Brien