Ike could leave 7.1m around Houston without power

12 September 2008 22:52  [Source: ICIS news]

Homes burn as Galveston floodsHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Hurricane Ike was expected to leave millions without electricity and paralyse a large part of US chemical and energy production at it rampaged through Texas, top US officials said on Friday.

US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters that as many as 7.1m people could be left without electricity in Ike’s wake. Some of them could be without power for as long as two weeks, according to emergency officials.

“This pretty much fits the category of a worst-case scenario,” Chertoff said.

The storm would pummel Houston for around 10-12 hours before moving off to the north, according to forecasts. 

Ike’s blow to the heart of the national
energy infrastructure will significantly impact fuel supplies throughout the south and the US east coast, Department of Energy (DoE) officials said.

The DoE said it was prepared to grant energy companies access oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to provide relief, but warned widespread fuel constraints could still occur.

The Ike’s massive storm surge began to flood
Galveston Island, some 50 miles (80km) south of Houston, on Friday morning. Chertoff said most of the island could be under water on Saturday.

Ike was 135 miles southeast of Houston as of 16:00 Houston time (21:00 GMT), according to the National Hurricane Center.

Chertoff  said Galveston residents appeared to have heeded warnings to get off the island well ahead of Ike, but the US Coast Guard was rescuing residents of the nearby Bolivar Peninsula, which was also flooding. Some homes along the coast could be seen burning as storm water began to reach them.

The Coast Guard and other emergency rescue groups began to curtail search and rescue operations on Friday afternoon as winds rose, officials said.

The Coast Guard attempted to rescue the 22 crew members of the petroleum coke freighter Antalina, which was adrift without power in Ike’s path, but the Coast Guard helicopters and other aircraft were turned away by high winds, officials said.

The Antalina lost main propulsion when it was about 90 miles (145km) southeast of
Galveston.

Shell said it has suspended service on its
Houma-to-Houston crude oil pipeline system at the request of customers.

“Our finished product storage and delivery systems in the Houston and Port Arthur areas have completed final deliveries prior to Hurricane Ike’s arrival,” Shell said in a statement. Shell said it continued to make crude oil deliveries from its Capline pipeline system at St James Louisiana, but at a reduced rate.

“Our finished product storage and delivery systems in the Houston and Port Arthur areas have completed final deliveries prior to Hurricane Ike’s arrival,” Shell said. 

Personnel not essential to certain storm actions have been released.  The systems are prepped for safe restart once the storm passes through and complete assessments have been made.

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By: Brian Ford
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