LOOP believes has adequate power for restart, demand

08 30, 2012 by Reuters

  • Main power line to onshore storage cut by Isaac
  • Entergy to inspect line for damage as soon as safety allows

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which handles 13 percent of foreign crude oil coming into the United States, said on Wednesday it believes it has adequate backup power generation to restart deliveries and meet anticipated demand from refiners after Hurricane Isaac.

Before being downgraded to a tropical storm, Isaac, as a category 1 hurricane, knocked out the main electrical supply line to the LOOP's onshore storage facilities at Clovelly, Louisiana, according to power provider Entergy Corp.

The LOOP's onshore storage is connected by pipeline to refineries accounting for more than 50 percent of national capacity and the power outage raises the possibility the LOOP could not deliver crude in the amounts and on the schedule the refiners require.

"Right now, we believe we have adequate backup power to restart and operate at anticipated demand," said LOOP spokeswoman Barb Hestermann.

Hestermann had previously said the loss of the power line to Clovelly might limit the amount of crude the LOOP could supply to refiners along the Gulf Coast and Midwest. But, during an afternoon meeting, LOOP officials determined the backup should be adequate for the demand the LOOP will face.

Demand for crude from Gulf Coast refineries has been cut because five refineries shut down and six reduced production ahead of Isaac, according to the companies.

Also, offshore production from Mars and Thunder Horse platforms, which ship to the LOOP, are currently shut due to the storm.

The LOOP has not set a date for restarting shipments to refiners and offloading tankers, Hestermann said.

Entergy said a helicopter will fly over the power line, which is located in south Louisiana marshland, as soon as winds recede to safe levels. Repairing a power line in marshland is more difficult than on solid ground because of environmental regulations protecting the wetlands.

The utility, which serves most residents and almost all of the 19 refineries in Louisiana, said it would make repairing the line a high priority.

"Entergy has been very supportive of us," Hestermann said.

Most of the crude the LOOP offloads from tankers goes into salt caverns onshore which keep the oil under pressure, thus requiring no power to pump out, she said.

The LOOP's tanker offloading facility, 20 miles south of the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, uses diesel power generators to power its operations. The LOOP can handle up to 1 million barrels a day in crude and averages about a tanker offloading per day.

The LOOP is the only deepwater oil port in the United States and can handle some of the largest tanker ships.

In addition to the LOOP, Entergy said several refineries and large industrial customers in the state are without power along with hundreds of thousands of households and small businesses.

Isaac came ashore southeast of New Orleans as a hurricane and cut across the areas of south Louisiana that support offshore oil and natural gas production in the Gulf.