26 January 2010 20:51 [Source: ICIS news]
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HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Motiva Enterprises cut production at its 285,000 bbl/day Port Arthur Refinery in Texas after a waterway was closed due to an oil spill, the refiner said on Tuesday.
Motiva did not specify the size of the reduction, although Reuters reported that production was cut by 100,000 bbl/day.
Motiva said in a statement that the refinery was operating at reduced rates due to the Sabine-Neches waterway being closed and that it would continue to receive crude through pipelines.
Motiva said it was managing its inventory and had made alternative supply arrangements to replace lost production.
Meanwhile, ships could begin moving on Wednesday through a Texas waterway clogged by a major oil spill, authorities said.
With more than two dozen ships waiting to get in or out of Port Arthur, the US Coast Guard will conduct test tows to see whether vessels can move safely through the Sabine-Neches waterway.
If the test tows succeed, the only obstacle remaining is removal of the ship and barge involved in the collision that caused the oil spill.
"They're hoping to get the ship out of the channel tomorrow," said petty officer Casey Ranel. "Then they could open the port to light traffic on Thursday."
Raymond Butler, executive director of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, said he was confident the waterway would open within the next 24-48 hours. "We'll be moving things through on Thursday, for sure," Butler said.
The spill's impact on oil prices so far seems minimal, with front-month NYMEX crude futures on Tuesday at $74.74/bbl, up less than 1% from the price before the spill.
The Texas waterway supplies oil to four refineries representing 6.5% of US capacity. The refineries, which have a combined capacity of 1.15m bbl/day, have been shut during clean-up operations.
Refinery spokesmen and oil analysts have said this week that the Gulf coast region has enough oil supplies to last through the clean-up period, provided the waterway reopens on schedule by Thursday.To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect
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