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US Gulf of Mexico producers shut in more production ahead of two tropical storms

August 25/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US Gulf of Mexico producers have opted to shut more of their production and evacuate crews Aug. 23 as meterologists revised the tracks of two tropical storms, Marco and Laura, that are set to come ashore back-to-back this week, likely along the Louisiana coast, reported S&P Global.

Statoil said that it had shut in production and evacuated crews from its US Gulf platforms on Aug. 22. The company has 123,000 boe/d of offshore US oil and gas production from nine Gulf fields, its website said. The company is also developing two other fields, Vito and North Platte.

And late Aug. 22, Shell had "shut in production at all but one of our assets" in the US Gulf, the company said in a statement, but did not identify the field that continues to produce.

Earlier that day, the company said it had shut in "the majority" of its Gulf assets.

Shell operates the Appomattox field in the eastern Gulf, the Stones and Perdido hubs in the remote ultra-deepwaters, and the Mars, Auger, Ursa, Olympus, Echilada and Salsa in shallower deep waters. All are offshore Louisiana except for Perdido, which is ofshore Texas.

Also, "we are in the process of safely pausing our drilling operations," Shell said.

The US Gulf currently produces about 1.85 million b/d of oil and about 2.7 Bcf/d of natural gas, according to the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

As of Aug. 22, BSEE reported that operators had shut in 13% of US Gulf oil output, or about 240,785 b/d, and 4.4% of natural gas, or 19,000 Mcf/d. An update is expected Aug 23.

In addition, the tracks for both storms have changed, as Marco's path has drifted east and Laura has migrated west of earlier forecasts. As a result, the storms are currently both predicted to hit the US Gulf Coast around Louisiana back-to-back early to midweek.

The storms pose a threat to area refineries, with the current storm cones covering roughly Houston, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Over 50% of US refining capacity is on the coast, with PADD III refining capacity, including condensate splitters, totaling over 10 million b/d, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. Of that, 9.6 million b/d is in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

"Depending on the severity, disruptions can last for a matter of days and most notably hurricanes Rita and Katrina upended operations during the fall of 2005," Platts Analytics analysts said in a report. "These historic storms led to some refineries being shuttered for weeks/months as extensive repairs became necessary. Overall US downtime amounted to over 3 million b/d for September and October of 2005, around five-six times average outages for the preceding five years for the respective months."

However, they added that refiners are currently cutting refinery runs because of weak demand owing to the coronavirus.

PADD III refinery runs averaged 7.8 million b/d the week ended Aug. 14, according to the US Energy Information Administration, 1.4 million b/d below the five-year average.

And the area is well-supplied with refined products. PADD III diesel inventories at 56.5 million barrels the week ending Aug. 14 were roughly 45% above the five-year average, while gasoline stocks at 89.3 million barrels were 13% above the five-year average.

Marco, which is forecasted to become a hurricane later Aug. 23, has now entered the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea, according to the US National Hurricane Center. Storm watches are in effect for a band extending from Alabama to central Louisiana, including New Orleans.

Marco was earlier forecasted to make landfall in southeast Texas but the trajectory shifted substantially to the east late Aug. 22, according to the NHC. The storm is projected to make landfall late Aug. 24 or early Aug. 25 in southeast Louisiana.

Laura early Aug. 23 was passing over Hispanola and is projected to become a hurricane Aug. 26. It is targeted to make landfall along the central or eastern Louisiana coast late Aug. 26 or early Aug. 27, according to NHC.

As MRC wrote before, Shell will announce a major restructure by the end of the year as the company prepares to accelerate its shift toward its net-zero emissions goal by 2050, said CEO Ben van Beurden to employees. The restructuring will include workforce reductions as part of broader cost-cutting measures, although no figures have been decided yet, the CEO reportedly said during an internal webcast.

We remind that Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to idle a sulfur recovery unit (SRU) at the joint-venture Deer Park, Texas, refinery in 2021, said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith in July 2020. Currently, the refinery is operating at about 75% of its 318,000 barrel-per-day capacity because of reduced demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, homopolymer PP, propylene, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, Shell, Statoil, Russia, USA.
Category:General News
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