Hurricane Beryl strengthens and shifts path, expected to hit Texas’ Corpus Christi

Jonathan Lopez


SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Hurricane Beryl is expected to post a “slow re-intensification” as it heads towards the north and could potentially hit Texas’ industrial hub of Corpus Christi by Monday.

On 4 July, the US National Hurricane Center had said Beryl had weakened from a category 5 hurricane to a category 3 and was expected to become a storm thereafter.

However, on Friday, as the Hurricane brought havoc to Yucatan, the NHC said it could strengthen again once it hits sea waters, making it stronger as it heads to make another landfall in Texas.

“Beryl is expected to emerge over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico tonight and then move northwestward toward northeastern Mexico and southern Texas by the end of the weekend,” said the NHC on Friday morning.

“Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts. Continued rapid weakening is expected as Beryl moves farther inland and crosses the Yucatan Peninsula today, but slow re-intensification is expected once Beryl moves back over the Gulf of Mexico.”

Moreover, the Houston area – an eight-million-strong metropolitan area – could also now be subject to a significant impact, although analysts at Space City Weather said on Friday the impact “will be mostly manageable locally”.

While the Altamira petrochemicals hub in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas was spare from the worse, industrial assets in Texas may not have the same luck.

The current pathway projected by the NHC implies that Beryl would make landfall in Texas right in the Corpus Christi area, where major refining and petrochemical assets are located.

In addition to being a refining and petrochemical hub, Corpus Christi is a major oil-exporting port and hosts a terminal that exports liquefied natural gas (LNG).

If Beryl finally disrupts US LNG exports, that could have a knock-on effect on petrochemical prices by shutting down one of the eight LNG export terminals in the country. If the disruption lasted long enough, prices for natural gas would fall.

Lower gas prices would drag down those for ethane, the main feedstock that US crackers use to produce ethylene.

Petrochemical producers could benefit from lower feedstock costs.

Meanwhile, as Beryl strengthens again, energy companies in Texas may choose to shut their plants as a precaution, as well as oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

Major US oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) ports could also be touched by Beryl now, which could potentially cause major disruption in supplies.

Space City Weather said that where Beryl ultimately makes landfall will depend on how far the high-pressure system is over the southern US retreats.

The landfall location is “complicated by the contour of the South Texas coastline, which is very nearly north-south relative” to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Regarding Houston, I would love to be able to tell you with certainty that Beryl will make landfall near or south of Corpus Christi. I truly think that will be the case. But as Beryl’s track has moved significantly in the last 24 hours that is not something I can guarantee you,” concluded analyst Eric Berger.

Source: US National Hurricane Center


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