Storms brewing in US Gulf, Atlantic, but chem ops not expected to be affected

Adam Yanelli


HOUSTON (ICIS)–Meteorologists are tracking two tropical disturbances, one in the US Gulf and the other in the Atlantic Ocean, but neither are expected to have any major influence on chemical plant operations.

In the US Gulf, there is a broad area of low pressure in the Bay of Campeche and conditions are conducive for gradual development with a tropical depression or tropical storm likely to form by midweek, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Regardless of development, the NHC said several days of heavy rainfall are expected across portions of southern Mexico and Central America.

Locally heavy rainfall is also expected to spread over northwestern portions of the US Gulf by the middle of the week.

An area of cloudiness and thunderstorms located several hundred miles east of the Bahamas is also showing conditions that could be conducive for some development over the next few days as it moves west-northwest, the NHC said.

The system is likely to approach the southeast US coast by Thursday or Friday.

There is likely to be increased focus on US Gulf petchem production this summer as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the greatest number of hurricanes in the agency’s history.

NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center said that the hurricane season – which started on 1 June and runs through 30 November – has an 85% chance to be above-normal, a 10% chance of being near-normal and only a 5% chance of being below-normal.

The prediction of 17-25 named storms is the highest ever, topping the 14-23 predicted in 2010.

A storm is named once it has sustained winds of 39 miles/h (63km/h).

Damage from hurricanes can lead to increased demand for chemicals, but hurricanes and tropical storms can also disrupt the North American petrochemical industry because many of the nation’s plants and refineries are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana.

In 2022, oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total US crude oil production and about 2% of total US dry natural gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies because companies often evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution.


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