Oil markets flat as restarts begin at storm-hit energy operations
By Erwin Seba HOUSTON (Reuters) - Energy companies on Friday continued efforts to restore operations at U.S. Gulf Coast offshore platforms and refineries shut by Hurricane Laura as oil markets largely shrugged off the storm's impact. Some 300 offshore production facilities and half-dozen refineries halted ahead of a Category 4 storm that hit the coast of Louisiana early Thursday with winds of 150 mile per hour (240 kph)
By Erwin Seba
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Energy companies on Friday continued efforts to restore operations at U.S. Gulf Coast offshore platforms and refineries shut by Hurricane Laura as oil markets largely shrugged off the storm's impact.
Some 300 offshore production facilities and half-dozen refineries halted ahead of a Category 4 storm that hit the coast of Louisiana early Thursday with winds of 150 mile per hour (240 kph). The destructive winds cut a narrow path through the area, sparing facilities not directly in its path.
However, Citgo Petroleum's [PDVSAC.UL] 418,000-barrel per day Lake Charles, Louisiana, plant was on the storm's path, and repairs could take four to six weeks, according to Mizuho Securities. The company did not reply to requests for comment.
U.S. crude futures traded at $43.08 per barrel at midday, up four cents, up slightly from $42.34 a week ago. U.S. gasoline futures were up 2 cents, less than 2% higher than they were a week ago.
About 84%, or 1.56 million barrels per day, of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output and 60% of natural gas offshore production were shut on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Interior reported.
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"Refiners may be reluctant to quickly return to production when the product they make is a money losing proposition," Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities, wrote on Friday.
The ports of Beaumont, Orange and Sabine, Texas, and Cameron and Lake Charles, Louisiana, remained closed on Friday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Houston, the United States' largest energy export port, restarted operations on Thursday and had nearly halved the list of 53 vessels waiting on Thursday to reenter the port.
One-way movement and other restrictions were in place on Friday at points along the Houston Ship Channel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)
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