U.S. Gulf Coast refineries stumble as severe weather strikes the region

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The Valero refinery next to the Houston Ship Channel is seen in Houston, Texas, U.S., May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

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HOUSTON, May 18 (Reuters) - Four U.S. Gulf Coast refineries slowed production on Tuesday as heavy rains fell, flooding areas across East Texas and Louisiana this week.

Heavy rainstorms and tremendous lightning are forecast this week to continue to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast, which is home to about half of the United States' oil refining capacity.

Total SE's (TOTF.PA) 225,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery was restarting on Tuesday after the entire plant was knocked out of production by a brief power loss on Monday, sources familiar with plant operations said.

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A Total spokeswoman declined to comment.

At Motiva Enterprises' (MOTIV.UL) 607,000-bpd Port Arthur refinery, the nation’s largest, a coker was restarting on Tuesday after being knocked out by a transformer blowout on Monday.

Motiva declined to comment.

More than eight inches (20 cm) of rain fell on Monday in Port Arthur, according to forecaster Weather Underground.

A catalytic reformer shut down at Valero Energy Corp’s (VLO.N) 335,000-bpd Port Arthur refinery on Monday, according to energy industry intelligence service Genscape.

Valero did not reply to a request for comment from Reuters.

On Tuesday, a small crude distillation unit was shut at Exxon Mobil Corp’s (XOM.N) 502,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery, for 30 days of planned work, according to two sources familiar with plant operations.

“Weather is not impacting operations at Baton Rouge,” said Exxon spokeswoman Julie King.

Rainfall totals this week in Baton Rouge have been about 6 inches with up to 10 inches falling in areas outside the city, according to Weather Underground.

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Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Richard Chang

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