Hurricane Laura Narrowly Misses Critical Energy Infrastructure

In late August, Hurricane Laura made landfall near Lake Charles, La., as a Category 4 storm after gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Sustained winds of 150 mph were recorded and storm surge caused widespread power outages, lost water service, shredded homes, and extensive infrastructure damage.

The Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (PESA) points out that Hurricane Laura caused devastation in the southern Louisiana communities where it made landfall, but it was a close call for Houston. The storm’s potential for vast damage renewed calls by government officials to build a massive coastal spine along Galveston Bay. According to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a deadly storm with a direct hit to Houston would result in over $100 billion in damages.

In preparation for the storm, energy companies offshore and along the coast prepared by shutting down facilities. Forecasts indicated that Hurricane Laura threatened about a third of U.S. refining capacity and potentially international trade through the Port of Houston. In preparation, six coastal refineries shut down and evacuated around half of offshore platforms.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) estimates that around a third of the current oil and natural gas production in the Gulf remain shut-in. BSEE will need to inspect facilities and check for damage before production can come back online.

With changes to state and local jurisdictions throughout the pandemic, PESA ensures that all elements of this sector and the critical supply chain remain open and permitted to operate. The association tracks these updates online through its COVID-19 state and local updates page.

SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, September 10, 2020. Weekly Propane Newsletter subscribers receive all the latest posted and spot prices from major terminals and refineries around the U.S. delivered to inboxes every week. Receive a center spread of posted prices with hundreds of postings updated each week, along with market analysis, insightful commentary, and much more not found elsewhere.