HOUSTON (ICIS)--Refineries and chemical plants in the US Gulf appeared to have sustained minimal damage as Hurricane Nicholas made landfall late Monday night as a category 1 storm near Matagorda, Texas.
ExxonMobil said its Texas refineries and chemical complexes in Baytown and Beaumont are operating as normal and that there was no significant damage or flooding at the sites.
Shell is conducting a thorough post-storm damage assessment at its complex in Deer Park, Texas.
“At this early stage there does not appear to be serious damage from wind, rain or storm surge. Operations at the facility remain normal,” the company said.
LyondellBasell safely shut down its Matagorda Complex in Bay City, Texas, because of widespread power outages in the region.
The company said its Houston, Texas, refinery and other Gulf coast facilities were operating normally.
CITGO said its refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, are operating normally.
Ascend said its operations at its Cedar Bayou acrylonitrile plant are normal.
All three trains at Freeport LNG are offline as of 14 September, according to a Freeport LNG spokeswoman, likely related to power issues.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the system could continue to generate heavy rainfall as it moves to the northeast.
As of 16:00 GMT, the system was moving slowly across the Houston metropolitan area at about 6 miles/hour, with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles/hour (75km/hour).
A category 1 storm is defined by having maximum sustained winds of at least 74 miles/hour according to the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Rainfall totals for the region are expected to be around 5-10 inches, with as much as 20 inches in some regions, according to the National Weather Service.
Electrical service provider CenterPoint Energy reported about 440,000 customers without power as of Tuesday morning.
CenterPoint crews have begun damage assessments and the service restoration process.
The restoration process begins with facilities vital to safety, health and welfare, such as hospitals, water treatment plants and public service facilities, the company said.
Further south in the Corpus Christi area, power provider AEP Texas said Nicholas damaged transmission lines and that at least 13 substations were offline as of Tuesday morning, causing power outages to about 13,500 customers in Matagorda County.
“Damage assessment teams will continue to identify downed utility poles, power lines and other safety hazards as crews begin the restoration process today,” AEP Texas said.
Union Pacific (UP) suspended local operations temporarily at the Settegast and Englewood intermodal ramps in the Houston area on Monday evening but said it would reopen on Tuesday morning.
The company took steps to address potential outages including generators at strategic locations, private on call contractors to support network outages and positioning track inspections ahead of trains following flash flooding events.
Some ports in the Texas Gulf Coast region and southwestern Louisiana are closed.
According to the US Coast Guard (USCG), the closed Texas ports include Beaumont/Port Arthur, Galveston, Freeport and Houston, as well as the ports of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The port in Corpus Christi, Texas, has resumed operations after they were suspended on Monday.
Port Houston said its terminals will remain closed on Tuesday and resume normal operations on Wednesday. This included the Turning Basin Terminal, Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals.
Additional reporting by Janet Miranda, Ruth Liao, Anna Matherne, Zachary Moore and Deniz Koray