18 December 2006 23:33 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Fog persisted for the fifth straight day on Monday along the Houston Ship Channel but refiners along the waterway reported little or no effect on operations.
A spokeswoman for Valero, which has two refineries in the area, said there have been enough breaks in the fog to allow the necessary crude supplies to keep operating rates normal.
ExxonMobil declined to comment on its operations but Shell said rates at its joint venture refinery had been affected.
“The fog in the Houston Ship Channel is having a temporary effect on crude supply at Shell Deer Park Refining Company and has had a minimal impact on rates,” said spokeswoman Emily Oberton.
Refineries in the area are accustomed to dealing with supply interruptions due to seasonally heavy fog, a source said.
Earlier on Monday, the US Department of Energy said it would make available loans from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve should refiners request them.
Guides led about five ships out of the Houston Ship Channel early Monday afternoon during a three-hour respite from the fog, said a spokesman for the Houston Pilots Association.
The spokesman said he was unsure how many vessels were awaiting entry into the channel, but said that on Monday morning there were about 55 ships backed up.
Weather forecasts predicted the next cold front, which typically clears out dense sea fog, would not arrive until Thursday.
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