U.S. Gulf Coast refinery operators keep an eye on Hurricane Dorian

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Chevron Corp’s 356,440 barrel-per-day Pascagoula, Mississippi, refinery is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Dorian, a company spokesman said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The Chevron Pascagoula Refinery is pictured in Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman/File Photo

Dorian is churning across the Atlantic Ocean toward landfall on the Atlantic coast of Florida over the weekend and may enter into the eastern Gulf of Mexico next week, according to some computer models.

“Pascagoula is following hurricane procedures and paying close attention to the track and forecast of the storm,” Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said in an email.

Refineries in Louisiana were not making preparations on Thursday for the storm, said people familiar with operations at Valero Energy Corp’s Meraux, Louisiana, refinery and PBF Energy Inc’s Chalmette, Louisiana, plant. Royal Dutch Shell Plc refineries in Norco and Convent, Louisiana, had no preparations under way on Thursday, a spokesman said.

PBF spokesman Michael Karlovich declined to discuss operations at the Chalmette refinery. A Valero spokeswoman did not reply to a request for comment.

Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Garyville, Louisiana, refinery did not respond to a request for comment about operations.

Dorian is predicted to have winds reaching 130 mph (209 kph) in 72 hours, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.

That would make it a Category 4 storm, the second-strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity.

Forecast tracks show the hurricane either remaining over land and moving north into Georgia, or entering the Gulf and making a second landfall in either the Florida panhandle, Alabama or Mississippi.

The Gulf Coast is home to more that 45% of U.S. national refining capacity.

The Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 16% of U.S. oil and 3% of natural gas production. Most offshore production platforms are in the central and western areas of the Gulf.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Peter Cooney