Oil tankers jam off Louisiana coast as ports assess storm damages

Unused oil rigs sit in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Fourchon, Louisiana August 11, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Celano

HOUSTON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - More than two dozen oil vessels were clustered off Louisiana seaports on Tuesday as the U.S. Coast Guard and port operators assessed damages wreaked by Hurricane Ida, according to sources and Refinitiv Eikon data.

Dozens of ports from Louisiana to Alabama closed as Ida tore through the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into the coast on Sunday. A few have reopened with restrictions on vessel drafts.

Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, packing 150-mile-per-hour (240 km-per hour) winds that knocked out power to a substantial part of the state. The outages have slowed port, refinery and pipeline operators' ability to resume operations.

Some 30 tankers remained moored off the Louisiana coast waiting to load or discharge cargoes, with the largest bottlenecks near Baton Rouge and Lake Charles. Refiners served by those ports include Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Citgo Petroleum Corp (PDVSAC.UL).

The ports of Lake Charles and Cameron in Louisiana, and Biloxi and Pascagoula in Mississippi, reopened this week to vessel traffic.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the only deepwater port that accommodates supertankers, remained closed, although an initial review found no major damage to marine operations, a person familiar with the matter said.

The Louisiana ports of Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Plaquemines, South Louisiana, St. Bernard, Venice, Houma, Morgan City, Port Fourchon and the South West Pass Lightering Area, remained shut to vessel traffic. A portion of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway off Mobile, Alabama, was also closed, the Coast Guard said.

Most of the anchored tankers were waiting outside the Mississippi River, the United States' most important commercial waterway. Power lines from a downed transmission tower near Avondale, Louisiana, were still in the river on Tuesday.

Analysis firm ClipperData said on Monday it expects no oil imports to be discharged at the affected ports in the coming days. Several refineries this week have said they were working on re-establishing basic operations after shutdowns.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Stephanie Kelly in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Thomson Reuters

Focused on energy-related sanctions, corruption and money laundering with 20 years of experience covering Latin America's oil and gas industries. Born in Venezuela and based in Houston, she is author of the book "Oro Rojo" about Venezuela's troubled state-run company PDVSA and Mom to three boys.