Oil refineries shut as Texas energy industry reels from deep freeze

Refinery workers walk inside the LyondellBasell oil refinery in Houston
Refinery workers walk inside the LyondellBasell oil refinery in Houston, Texas March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Donna Carson/File Photo

Feb 15 (Reuters) - A deep freeze across Texas over the weekend took a toll on the energy industry in the largest U.S. crude-producing state, shutting oil refineries and forcing restrictions from natural gas pipeline operators.

The cold snap prompted the state's electric grid operator to impose rotating blackouts, while President Joe Biden declared an emergency on Monday, unlocking federal assistance to Texas. read more

Texas produces roughly 4.6 million barrels of oil a day and is home to some of the nation's largest refineries, spread throughout the Gulf Coast. In Midland, heart of the U.S. Permian shale region, temperatures were in the single digits Fahrenheit.

Motiva Enterprises said it was shutting down its Port Arthur, Texas, manufacturing complex, which includes its refinery. Motiva's Port Arthur refinery produces more than 630,000 barrels of product per day, making it the largest refinery in the United States.

Citgo Petroleum Corp (PDVSAC.UL) said some units at its 167,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery were being shut.

Sources familiar with plant operations earlier said the crude distillation unit, a reformer and a hydrotreater were shut by cold weather at the refinery, with all other units also being powered down.

The cold snap also forced Lyondell Basell's (LYB.N) 263,776 bpd Houston refinery to operate at minimum production, and also shut most units at Marathon's (MPC.N) 585,000 bpd Galveston Bay plant.

But Exxon's (XOM.N) 369,024 bpd Beaumont, Texas, refinery seemed to be operating at normal levels, although the company had warned nearby residents of flaring from the plant.

"We are also getting reports of power outages across the Permian, which are expected to continue over the weekend if the current weather system persists. This may result in intermittent production shut-ins, with a moderate impact on Permian oil production expected in February," Rystad Energy's head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugen said in a note.

Energy distribution was stalled across large parts of the United States.

Kinder Morgan's (KMI.N) Natural Gas Pipeline Co. reported capacity constraints at various locations on its pipeline system, while Enable Gas Transmission, announced it was taking measures to ensure adequate supply for customers.

Oil pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. on Monday said a 585,000 barrel per day crude oil pipeline that runs from its terminal near Pontiac, Illinois, outside of Chicago, to the largest U.S. oil storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, was halted because of power outages.

“Crews are working with electric utility providers to restore power to Line 59,” as the pipeline is called, said Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes. “The power failure is due to the winter storm the U.S. is experiencing.”

Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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