U.S. Gulf Coast oil refiners recovering faster than producers

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HOUSTON — Most of the nine Louisiana refineries shut by Hurricane Ida have restarted or were restarting on Friday, nearly two weeks after the powerful storm came ashore, a Reuters survey showed.

Refiners are coming back faster than oil production, a reverse of past storm recoveries. Just three of the nine refineries were completely idled, accounting for about 7% of Gulf Coast refining, compared to shut-ins of two-thirds of oil output.

Valero Energy Corp’s Meraux refinery on the Mississippi River east of New Orleans was restarting units on Friday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Valero also is preparing its St. Charles refinery to restart, the company has said.

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Royal Dutch Shell’s Norco refinery was receiving limited power on Friday, and is planning to begin restarting in one to two weeks, according to company reports and people close to the company.

PBF Energy’s Chalmette refinery has restarted some units but has not resumed production, sources told Reuters.

The state’s two largest refineries – Marathon Petroleum’s 578,000 barrel per day (bpd) Garyville and Exxon Mobil Corp’s 520,000 bpd Baton Rouge plant – have returned to operation, the companies said on Friday.

Exxon is operating its two gasoline-producing units at maximum capacity, said people familiar with plant operations. It has received 3 million barrels of crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

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The hardest hit refinery, Phillips 66’s 255,600 bpd Alliance plant in Belle Chasse, faces months of repairs that could rival those needed after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, sources familiar with the situation said.

It was continuing to pump water out of the refinery on Friday, the sources said. Phillips 66 had repaired a broken flood wall that allowed storm waters to enter the plant, a spokesperson said.

Two other refineries: Placid Refining’s 75,000-bpd Port Allen refinery and Delek US Holdings’ 80,000-bpd plant in Krotz Springs restarted early this week. Placid has received 300,000 barrels of crude oil from the SPR. (Reporting by Erwin Seba Editing by Chris Reese)

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