Franklin to hit Mexico oil state as season's first Atlantic hurricane

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VERACRUZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Storm Franklin, now a Category 1 hurricane, is set to crash into eastern Mexico’s key oil-producing Gulf state of Veracruz as the Atlantic’s first hurricane of 2017, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, the storm was located about 105 miles (170 km) northeast of Veracruz and was blowing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), the center said. The storm is moving west at 12 mph (19 kph) and its center is expected to reach Veracruz on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.

Franklin is seen weakening rapidly after making landfall, the NHC said.

Veracruz, a major oil producer, is home to two important petroleum ports in Tuxpan and the city of Veracruz.

Across Veracruz state’s northern border is the Ciudad Madero refinery, capable of handling up to 190,000 barrels per day. The plant is on the periphery of the storm’s possible path.

Reporting by Tamara Corro in Veracruz and Vijaykumar Vedala and Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and James Dalgleish