Texas Oil Refineries Could Take Weeks to Restart: Energy Update




  • In Business
  • 2021-02-19 00:14:21Z
  • By Bloomberg
 

(Bloomberg) -- The sprawling blackouts that plunged Texas into chaos in the midst of an historic cold blast are easing, but the energy crisis that the outages sparked continues.

Four of the largest refineries in Texas are discovering widespread damage from the deep freeze that crippled the state and expect to be down for weeks of repairs, raising the potential for prolonged fuel shortages that could spread across the country.

About 340,000 homes and businesses in the state were still without electricity Thursday evening, according to Poweroutage.us, which aggregates data from utility websites. That's down from more than 3 million on Wednesday. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a tweet that any remaining residential outage is due to downed power lines or the need for reconnection.

The economic fallout from the crisis is broad and potentially lasting. U.S. oil production plunged by a record 40%. While some wells are being restarted in Texas, several companies in the oil industry have claimed force majeure, a warning to customers that they won't be able to meet deliveries under contract.

Repercussions are being felt in the global crude market. Top U.S. liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. said it's temporarily cutting gas and electricity consumption.

"None of the massive infrastructure was designed to handle freezing conditions," Paul Sankey, an oil analyst at Sankey Research, wrote in a note. "This is an energy crisis that very few in the market, certainly outside Texas and Oklahoma, realize."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has taken the extraordinary step of restricting the flow of natural gas across state lines, Thursday afternoon demanded that lawmakers make winterization of power plants mandatory. Abbott harshly criticized the state's grid manager for what he said was a failure to provide a realistic assessment of Texas's generating capacity prior to the unprecedented cold snap.

Read More: How Extreme Cold Turned Into a U.S. Energy Crisis: QuickTake

All time stamps are EST.

Restarting Texas' Damaged Oil Refineries Is Going to Take Weeks (6:50 p.m.)

Four of the largest refineries in Texas are discovering widespread damage from the deep freeze that crippled the state and expect to be down for weeks of repairs, raising the potential for prolonged fuel shortages that could spread across the country.

Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Baytown and Beaumont plants, Marathon Petroleum Corp.'s Galveston Bay refinery and Total SE's Port Arthur facility all face at least several weeks to resume normal operations, people familiar with the situation said. Gasoline prices at the pump could reach $3 a gallon in May as long outages crimp supply ahead of the driving season, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for retailer tracker GasBuddy.

The cold snap and power outages roiling energy markets affected more than 20 oil refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Crude-processing capacity fell by about 5.5 million barrels a day, according to Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst for consultant Energy Aspects Ltd.

Automakers Shut or Slow Several Plants Because of Weather (5 p.m.)

Volkswagen AG said its Chattanooga factory in Tennessee, which builds the Passat sedan and Atlas SUV, will have a temporary production suspension Friday due to the inclement weather's continued impact on supply chain operations.

Ford Motor Co. said the unseasonably cold weather throughout much of North America continues to affect operations at some of its plants in the region, from Kentucky to Michigan. Its Hermosillo assembly plant in Mexico is down due to the gas shortage caused by the cold. The company has asked its Texas dealers to deploy more than 400 of its newly redesigned F-150 pickup equipped with an on-board electric generator.

Texas Governor Blasts Grid Manager, Demands Power Plant Upgrades (4:43 p.m)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott demanded that lawmakers make winterization of power plants mandatory under state law after four days of widespread blackouts and water shortages.

Abbott harshly criticized the state's grid manager, known as Ercot, and its CEO Bill Magness for what he said was a failure to provide a realistic assessment of Texas's generating capacity prior to the unprecedented cold snap.

"Ercot has failed on each of these measures that they said they had undertaken," Abbott said during a media briefing on Thursday. "Texans deserve answers."

The Republican governor also said he has asked the Joe Biden administration for a major disaster declaration, partly because such a measure would enable individual Texans to seek reimbursement for residential damage such as burst water pipes.

RWE Sees 2021 EBITDA Hurt on Texas Weather Conditions (4:18 p.m.)

RWE expects 2021 Ebitda from its onshore wind and solar segment to be negatively affected in the range of a low to mid three-digit million euro amount iue to extreme weather conditions in Texas that led to outages of the company's wind turbines and high electricity prices.

RWE currently has to buy electricity at abnormally high pricing conditions following an order of the Public Utility Commission of Texas directing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to reflect scarcity prices. It said the final assessment of the actual impact is not yet possible at this time.

Texas Oil Patch Is Starting to Resume Operations After Cold Snap (3:53 p.m.)

The Texas oil patch is slowly restarting wells after a deep freeze that swept through the region shut a record amount of U.S. crude output.

Marathon Oil Corp., Devon Energy Corp. and Verdun Oil Co LLC have begun using restored power from local grids or generators to restart oil output across the Eagle Ford shale basin that was shut by the frigid weather, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. The companies began work to resume operations late Wednesday.

Nobody can say exactly how long it will take to restore all supply lost. But oil traders and executives have said they hope most of the production lost will return within days as temperatures rise and power becomes available. They've warned that a small percentage may be shut down longer due to the need for repairs.

No LNG Tankers Are Loading at U.S. Export Terminals Amid Freeze (3:30 p.m.)

Right now there are no liquefied natural gas tankers docked and loading at any of the six U.S. export terminals. That's a highly unusual situation for the world's third-largest shipper of the fuel and an indication of how far LNG trade flows have been upended by the recent freeze.

Shipping data compiled by Bloomberg shows the absence of vessels after two tankers left U.S. terminals Thursday. The arctic blast hit that hit Texas Sunday slashed gas supplies just as demand rocketed.

Whole System Came Minutes From Meltdown, Texas Grid Manager Says (3 p.m.)

As generating units failed Sunday night between 11 p.m. and midnight, the whole system came just minutes from melting down into total failure as power plants failed and people's power usage rose, Ercot CEO Bill Magness said in a news briefing Thursday.

"One of the reasons that operators have to act to arrest the frequency is if they say, "Well, you know, let's wait another minute and see what happens.' What happens in that next minute might be three big units come off and then you're sunk," said Magness.

The frequency was dropping and the operators had to act immediately. "It was seconds and minutes given the amount of generation that was coming off the system at the same time that the demand was still going up significantly."

Cruz Returns to Texas Under Fire for Cancun Trip Amid Blackouts (2:34 p.m.)

Senator Ted Cruz is returning to Texas after coming under harsh criticism for flying to Cancun, Mexico with his family while the state he represents is dealing with widespread power outages in the wake of a historic winter storm.

The Republican lawmaker said he was returning to Houston on Thursday after flying to the Mexican resort city the day before.

Texas' Second-in-Command Makes Rare Defense of Wind, Solar (2:24 p.m.)

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said wind and solar have been unfairly blamed for the unprecedented power failures that have paralyzed much of the second-largest U.S. state for four days.

Patrick, a Republican in the nation's biggest oil-producing state, told Fox News on Thursday that windmills and solar arrays weren't alone in going offline and make up too small a portion of the energy baseload to take the blame.

"We had a breakdown everywhere -- frozen water lines, frozen gas line, frozen equipment," Patrick said. A state senate investigation into the weather-driven power outages that swept Texas will begin next week, Patrick said.

Solar Key to Restoring Texas Power, Grid Operator Says (12:57 p.m.)

Texas's grid operator credited solar power with the fast restoration of power that began Wednesday afternoon.

"We had quite a bit of solar generation online," Dan Woodfin, director of system operations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told reporters Thursday. "When the solar generation was online, we started trying to bring back a lot of the load."

As transmission operators began restoring thousands of megawatts of power to customers Wednesday, they discovered demand was lower than expected because many businesses were shut down, Woodfin said. "We realized at that point we could start to go much faster. We started telling the transmission operators to restore pretty much as fast as you can, because we can keep up with it in terms of generation," he said.

Grid Operators Unprepared for Extreme Weather: EPRI (11:51 a.m.)

An electric industry think tank is warning that grid operators don't adequately plan for extreme weather events like the cold snap wreaking havoc in Texas, disruptions that are happening more often and growing more severe as the climate changes.

The Electric Power Research Institute in January released a report saying the industry "systematically understates" the likelihood and severity of such events, which can affect multiple fossil fuel and renewable power plants at the same time. Instead, they have been treated as anomalies, and that must change, EPRI Chief Executive Officer Arshad Mansoor said Thursday. The institute studies issues important to electric and gas utilities and rarely criticizes the industry.

"EPRI scientists and engineers concluded that grid operator planning processes, including resource adequacy planning, typically don't consider extreme climate scenarios that a resilient grid must be able to handle going forward," he said, in a statement. "Traditional planning processes do not represent how resources actually perform under extreme conditions."

Cameron LNG Declares Force Majeure as Freeze Affects Loadings (11:24 a.m.)

Cameron LNG, an export plant in Louisiana, has declared force majeure on cargo loadings after the cold blast squeezed gas supplies, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The force majeure covers cancellation of at least one cargo for prompt loading, and delay for another two or three loadings, one of the people said. Cameron LNG didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

Texas Sees 'Glide Path' to Restoring Power (11:12 a.m.)

Operators of Texas's power grid said they see a "glide path" to restoring power in the state. Homes and businesses that originally lost power are being restored, officials said during a briefing Thursday. The total load, or power demand, on the system rose to 55.4 gigawatts, the highest since the blackouts began.

There is, however, ice damage on the grid in Central Texas.

Texas Power Outages Fall Below 600,000 (8:40 a.m.)

The lights are finally coming back on in Texas, albeit slowly. About 525,000 homes and businesses in Texas were without power Thursday morning as power plants have gradually come back online, according to Poweroutage.us, which aggregates data from utility websites. That's down from more than 3 million on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, about 4 million homes and businesses were in the dark. That's nearly 12 million people based on the size of the average household in the state.

Electricity Demand Starts to Rise as Blackouts Improve (6:20 a.m.)

Power demand on the Ercot grid is starting to pick up signaling that fewer blackouts are needed to keep the system stable. Demand rose above 50 gigawatts, for the first time since Monday showing a marked improvement from the same time on Wednesday.

A large nuclear unit in South Texas has increased output to a level where it can feed electricity into the grid, providing extra supply, NRC data show.

Power capacity online showed signs of improvement as a nuclear reactor in South Texas ramped up production and

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