Storm Pushes Fuel Shortage Issues East

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Storm Pushes Fuel Shortage Issues East

08/31/2017

NATIONAL REPORT — This past weekend's storm is moving on from the Gulf region; however, its impact on fuel supplies could be felt as far away as the East Coast.

The storm came ashore on Aug. 25 as Hurricane Harvey — a category 4 storm — and downgraded over the weekend to a tropical storm. It has since further weakened to a tropical depression.

According to The Wall Street Journal, flooding in Texas has led to fuel shortages across the state from Austin to Dallas and disrupted the flow of petroleum from the Colonial Pipeline that moves gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to the East Coast.

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, the Colonial Pipeline — which runs from Texas to New Jersey — said its facilities west of Lake Charles, La., were temporarily out of service due to the storm. 

On Thursday, Aug. 31, Colonial announced two lines continue to operate from Lake Charles east, and deliveries would be intermittent and dependent on terminal and refinery supply. The lines remained down from Houston to Hebert due to the storm.

"We currently estimate that we will be able to return to service from Houston Sunday, following an evaluation of our infrastructure and successful execution of our start up plan," Colonial said.

Of the 26 refineries that connect to the Colonial system, 13 are located between Houston and Lake Charles.

According to the WSJ, the Colonial Pipeline is the biggest fuel pipeline in the United States, stretching 5,500 miles through 12 states. It can transport up to 2.5 million barrels a day of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, and is directly connected to several airports, including Nashville, Charlotte and Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.

The pipeline is a main source of fuel for the Southeast, including offshoots to parts of northern Florida. It ends in New Jersey and is also a massive supplier of fuel to the greater New York City metropolitan area.

The Colonial is owned by a consortium of companies, including Koch Industries Inc., Shell Pipeline Co. and South Korea’s National Pension Service.

The WSJ also said that Mansfield Oil, a nationwide fuel wholesaler based in Gainesville, Ga., was reporting limited fuel supply in Austin as well as areas as far away as Atlanta.

In addition, Motiva Enterprises ceased operations at its Port Arthur, Texas refinery. Motiva began a controlled shutdown of the 603,000 barrel-per-day plant in response to increased local flooding conditions, according to CNBC.com.

The Port Arthur refinery is the largest in the United States. Motiva said restarting the refinery would depend on floodwaters receding.