Gulf Coast Oil Refineries Breathe a Sigh of Relief
Early this week, refineries that collectively process some 2.4 million barrels of oil a day were being threatened by the heightening flood waters of the Mississippi River. These refineries account for some 14% of U.S. oil capacity. Since opening 15 gates on Louisiana’s Morganza floodway, the flooding risk has severely decreased, but is still apparent for refineries lining the Gulf Coast.
Restrictions on river ship and barge traffic have limited transportation through the waterway, causing fear of delivery shortages. Coast Guard reopened the Mississippi north of New Orleans on Tuesday, allowing cargo vessels to pass slowly, one at a time.
The river crested yesterday afternoon at about 17 feet in New Orleans, 2.5 feet below forecast. The levels probably won’t get much higher in those cities, even with the bulge of the Mississippi’s high water still days away, said Col. Ed Fleming, district commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This was positive news for the nine refineries lining the Coast between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.