After Harvey, Aramco Shuts Down Biggest Refinery in US

A truck in flood waters passes a home damaged in the wake of Hurricane Harvey Saturday Aug. 26 20

In Houston, America s fourth-largest city, some of the 2.3 million residents got relief as the raging waters receded.

Motiva, owned by Saudi Aramco started its controlled shutdown of a facility in Port Arthur early Wednesday having reduced the capacity gradually on Tuesday to just 40%. Earlier Tuesday, it was running at 60% capacity.

Residents of cities in Jefferson County, Tex., about 100 miles east of Houston, were desperate for help Wednesday morning after rain there caused floodwaters to rise precipitously and lightning made things particularly hard for those responding to the storm.

According to the Associated Press, 33-year-old Joshua Feuerstein of Conroe died when he drove around a barricade and into flood waters.

Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said nearly 100 percent of the 20,000 homes in Port Arthur have some type of water in them.

Yet, the restarts are being complicated by personnel finding it hard to reach their respective plants, according to Shell, another refinery operator in the area.

The Port Arthur city Twitter account encouraged residents to "display a white towel, sheet, shirt or anything" so rescuers could find them in the torrential rain that was still pouring down Wednesday morning.

"Given the unprecedented flooding in the city of Port Arthur, it remains uncertain how quickly the flood waters will recede, so we can not provide a timeline for restart at this time", the company said in a statement. Total SA's refinery in Port Arthur is out with a power loss, a person familiar with that plant said.

ExxonMobil announced Wednesday that it would shutter another refinery in nearby Beaumont, citing "operational issues" from Harvey.

The nation's second-largest refinery, Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Houston-area Baytown plant, already shut down Sunday, while more than a half-dozen smaller refineries along the Texas coast have also stopped operations, notes the Journal.

Since Harvey struck on Friday, at least 12 refineries have now gone offline, and flooding has obstructed a significant portion of the America's refining capacity.

Riojas added that refinery startup is underway at Valero's Three Rivers, Texas, plant. But it will take some time before they're fully back online.

The flooding has also crimped the flow of gasoline and other fuels to the East Coast through a big pipeline. On the other side, refiners' inability to produce and distribute gasoline and other refined products is weighing on supply and driving those prices higher.

Harvey's outer storm bands reached the New Orleans area yesterday, dropping around 3.5 inches at Lakefront Airport in New Orleans East through 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

"There's nothing we can do", Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens told local news channel KDFM.

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