Nicholas spares most US Gulf ops, but remnants could bring heavy rains to Louisiana

Author: Adam Yanelli

2021/09/14

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Hurricane Nicholas largely spared US Gulf coast refineries and chemical plants after making landfall on Monday night as a category 1 storm. But the remnants could generate heavy rainfall over Louisiana, which is still recovering from Hurricane Ida.

Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said significant rainfall amounts are expected from the upper coast of Texas, across Louisiana and the southern parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the system, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, was 50 miles (80km) east of Houston and is moving slowly to the east-northeast at about 6 miles/hour.

The NHC said maximum sustained winds are still near 40 miles/hour.

The biggest concern moving forward is likely to be from rainfall, which can lead to closed roads and rail disruptions.

PLANT OPERATIONS
Refineries and chemical plants in the US Gulf appeared to have sustained minimal damage from the storm.

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 conducted a thorough post-storm damage assessment at its complex in Deer Park, Texas, and was running normally as of mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

A notice advised employees and contractors to report to work as usual on Wednesday.

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.

Phillips 66 said its Sweeny Refinery in Brazoria county, Texas, was operational after the storm, as well as its Lake Charles, Louisiana, manufacturing complex.

Ascend said its operations at its Cedar Bayou acrylonitrile plant are normal.

Arkema, which has production at two sites in Texas, would not comment directly on operations but said impact from the storm did not seem to be very bad in the areas where they have plants in the state.

Oxiteno is restarting its Pasadena surfactants site after losing power from the storm.

All three trains at Freeport LNG are offline as of 14 September, according to a Freeport LNG spokeswoman, likely related to power issues.

RAILROADS
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.

PORTS
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, Antoinette Smith, Zachary Moore, Lucas Hall and Deniz Koray