HOUSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast states of Louisiana and Mississippi made preparations on Monday for Tropical Storm Gordon to come ashore late Tuesday.
No refinery production has been shut due to the storm, but the plants were securing loose items to prevent damage from the expected 50-60 mile per hour (80-96 kph) winds and determining necessary staffing.
In offshore production areas, there have been no reports of platforms or rigs being shut or workers being evacuated as Gordon crossed the tip of Florida’s peninsula on Monday, heading northwest over the Gulf of Mexico.
Production levels at offshore facilities operated by Chevron Corp in the Gulf of Mexico remained at normal levels on Monday, said company spokeswoman Veronica Flores-Paniagua.
Chevron also said on Monday staff at its 352,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery at Pascagoula, Mississippi, were monitoring the storm carefully and preparing the plant for wind and rain. The Pascagoula refinery is closest to the landfall location currently forecast for Gordon.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to increase staffing at its 218,200 bpd Norco, Louisiana, refinery west of New Orleans, as it prepares the refinery for high winds, said sources familiar with plant operations.
Valero Energy Corp was also readying its 125,000 bpd Meraux, Louisiana, refinery on the east side of New Orleans for the storm’s winds, said sources familiar with plant operations.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
More than 45 percent of the nation’s refining capacity is located along the U.S. Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 percent of total U.S. natural gas processing capability.
Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry