By Marianna Parraga and Rod Nickel HOUSTON/MOBILE, Ala., Oct 8 (Reuters) – Some oil ports, producers and refiners in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama that shut facilities ahead of Hurricane Nate were planning reopenings as the storm moved inland on Sunday, away from most energy infrastructure on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The storm, which weakened to a tropical depression and was moving inland toward Alabama and Tennessee, killed 30 people in Central America before speeding across the central U.S. Gulf of Mexico, where more than 90 percent of oil output remained shut.
Oil producers Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell began on Sunday to redeploy personnel, assess facilities and restore oil output in the Gulf of Mexico, including platforms, pipelines and terminals shut ahead of Nate, the companies said in statements.
Chevron also said it was assessing the impact of Nate on its 340,000-barrel-per-day Pascagoula refinery in Mississippi.
About eight flares and limited steam were visible on Sunday at Chevron’s refinery, indicating activity. Energy intelligence service Genscape said Chevron shut the facility on Saturday, but the company did not confirm the information.
Nate has forced the closure of more than triple the volume of Gulf offshore crude production than Hurricane Harvey did from late August to early September, with 92.6 percent of total oil output shut, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
About 1.62 million bpd of oil and 2.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas output remained offline on Sunday at 298 evacuated offshore platforms, almost unchanged from Saturday, the BSEE said.
Vessel traffic and port operations at New Orleans resumed on Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard said. “New Orleans has reopened all waterways without restrictions,” it said in a statement where it also warned about shoaling, storm debris, and other hazards that may exist after the storm.
In Alabama, the port of Mobile remained closed on Sunday and no estimated reopening date had been officially set, although no damage to the terminal and port had been reported, said Mike Forister, assistant terminal manager at Arc Terminals.
Forester said it was not much of a setback “because we are getting down to slower season,” he said.
Mobile’s navigation channel could remain shut until Tuesday because of rough conditions, said Mike Buckley, operations manager at Alabama Bulk Terminal Company, whose facilities did not sustain damage.
About 18 oil tankers were sheltered on Sunday along the Mississippi River near New Orleans, half of them loaded with crude or refined products. Several container ships and cruise ships were also waiting for the port to allow disembarking.
In Mobile, two tankers were near the port, according to the Reuters data.
Phillips 66’s 247,000-bpd Alliance refinery and Valero’s 125,000-bpd Meraux refinery, both in Louisiana, were reported undamaged after the passage of Nate, said sources familiar with their operations.
Alliance planned to restart some units on Sunday but may not resume production until midweek because of the limited availability of crude oil at the U.S. Gulf, the sources said.
Phillips 66 said it had no update on the status of the refinery on Sunday morning. Valero did not respond to a request for comment about Meraux, which was not shut during the storm.
PBF Energy Inc’s Chalmette refinery in Louisiana was operating on Sunday, according to sources. The company declined to comment.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Rod Nickel in Mobile, Ala.; Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Jessica Resnick-Ault in Pascagoula, Miss.; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)
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