Companies prepare to return to the Gulf

08 31, 2012 by Fuel Fix

As Isaac rumbles slowly across Louisiana, leaving floodwaters, downed trees and power outages in its soggy wake, energy companies are preparing to resume operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Along the coast, refinery crews have begun to assess the damage to prepare to restart, too.

BP said it will attempt fly-over surveys of key facilities in the Gulf as weather permits and then begin redeploying offshore personnel.

Chevron said it has begun to deploy personnel to both onshore and offshore facilities to assess the impact of Hurricane Isaac, although it declined to compact on any possible impact to operations.

And Shell announced that it expected to begin fly-over inspections Thursday in anticipation of restarting operations Friday.

Ten Gulf Coast refineries with combined crude oil processing capacity of about 2.4 million barrels a day were offline or running at reduce rates Wednesday, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

By Thursday morning, workers were beginning to assess the damage.

Crews at Valero Energy Corp.’s St. Charles and Meraux refineries began conducting assessments Thursday, spokesman Bill Day said.

Preliminary assessments showed no major structural damage to production units, although there was some minor wind damage, such as torn insulation, he said.

Some employees will begin returning to the plants Thursday, he said in an email, and the company will have a better idea within the next few days when the restart can begin.

The Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, La., is without power and sustained some flooding, the company reported today. It said that refinery workers are trying to prevent further flooding and to pump water from the flooded areas.

The company’s 239,000 barrel-per-day Lake Charles Refinery in Westlake, La., remains in operation.

Chevron said its Pascagoula Refinery continues to operate at a reduced rate as a precaution as the ship channel and marine transportation return to normal.