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Harvey aftermath hits a third of US oil refineries

Updated: September 01, 2017 06:19AM UTC


David Sheppard, Energy Markets Editor

Date: Friday, September 01, 2017


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The havoc wrought by tropical storm Harvey began to spread well beyond the Houston area on Thursday as the damage to the US’s energy infrastructure sent the price of gasoline sharply higher and forced Washington to step in to prevent fuel shortages. Almost a week after the storm first made landfall in Texas, almost a third of US oil refineries — many of which are clustered on the US Gulf Coast — have been affected by the storm, and refineries still in operation in the region are struggling to import crude because of outages at port facilities. As fears of cholera and typhoid increased in flooded parts of Texas, medical officials alerted the public over the dangers from contaminated water. White House officials, meanwhile, warned against price gouging on goods. “Anybody that’s going to go out and try to take advantage of a disaster victim ought to expect the law enforcement to come down [on] them with a hammer,” said homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. “That’s not acceptable on a regular day. It’s certainly not acceptable when people are suffering.” Gasoline futures were particularly rattled by Wednesday night’s announcement by Colonial Pipeline that it was shutting down the key artery carrying fuel from the Gulf coast refining hub to the East Coast, in a move that could drastically restrict petrol and diesel flows to some of the biggest cities in the US. North Carolina governor Roy Cooper on Thursday declared a state of emergency which will allow gasoline to move through the state more quickly in response to delivery problems.

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