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Today in Energy: Cold weather led to refinery shutdowns in US Gulf Coast region

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The cold snap that affected much of the central part of the US in mid-February disrupted energy systems, particularly in and around Texas, US. In the US Gulf Coast, where the petroleum infrastructure has rarely operated in sub-zero temperatures, several refineries fully or partially shut down, leading to the largest reduction in Gulf Coast refinery operations in several years.

Based on the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) ‘Weekly Petroleum Status Report’ (WPSR), gross inputs of crude oil and other feedstock to US refineries declined 2.7 million bpd (18%) to 12.6 million bpd for the week ending 19 February 2021. Most of the reduction in gross inputs (also known as refinery runs) was in the Gulf Coast region, which includes Texas.

Gulf Coast refinery runs decreased by 2.4 million bpd (28%) to 6.3 million bpd, the largest weekly decline since the impact of Hurricane Harvey in September 2017. The refinery closures will likely continue to affect petroleum markets in the coming weeks, reducing refinery demand for crude oil and production of refined products such as motor gasoline and distillate fuel oil.

The Gulf Coast accounts for more than half of total US refinery capacity, and Texas alone accounts for about 32% of total US capacity. By the peak of the weather’s impact on 17 February, several refineries had announced either substantial or complete shutdowns as a result of external power outages, constrained natural gas supplies, logistical disruptions, or damage to process units. In total, an estimated 3.7 million bpd, or 20% of total US refining capacity, was shut in as a result of the weather, according to US Department of Energy estimates. Most of the disruptions and shutdowns were among refiners in the Beaumont/Port Arthur, Houston, and Corpus Christi regions of Texas.

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Downstream news US refinery news