HOUSTON (ICIS)--Hurricane Harvey has strengthened to a category 2 hurricane and is forecast to further strengthen to category 3 before making landfall over southeast Texas later on Friday or early Saturday, officials said in an update on Friday morning.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that flooding and high winds caused by Hurricane Harvey have the potential to affect energy infrastructure in the region, including the Texas Gulf Coast, the home to a great deal of US oil and natural gas infrastructure.
As of Thursday, several oil and petrochemical companies had already shut in production from several facilities, and oil firms evacuated personnel from offshore platforms.
Harvey is expected to strengthen to a category 3 hurricane before making landfall, and stall over Texas, bringing heavy rainfall, winds, and a significant storm surge to the area, the EIA said. Such a rating would make Harvey a major hurricane, with wind speeds of at least 111 miles/hour (179 km/hour)
Because of the slow speed of the storm and the forecast for it to stall over Texas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects prolonged periods of torrential rainfall, leading to the potential for severe flooding in the region, EIA said.
On Wednesday, the governor of Texas already declared a state of disaster for 30 counties in the path of the storm.
If NOAA’s current expectations are realised, Hurricane Harvey will be the first major hurricane - those rated category 3 or higher - to make landfall in the US since four major hurricanes - Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma - made landfall in 2005, EIA said.
EIA maintains an energy disruptions map on its website that displays energy infrastructure and real-time storm information.
Several petrochemical plants and refineries have begun shutdown procedures in reparation of the storm.
The following companies have reported shutdowns in the US.
Additional reporting by Al Greenwood