25% of US oil refining in Ike's path

Posted on September 12, 2008

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This map shows the 6 meter (20 foot) flood zone from sea level rise. It’s likely the worst-case for the storm surge. Feel free to scroll around, especially up to Port Arthur on the Texas-Louisiana border.

This site has all the oil refineries in the US on it. Zoom in on the Houston area and compare the two maps. If you look closely at Texas City, between Galveston and Houston, and well within the 20 foot flood zone, you’ll find three refineries – BP Products North America, Marathon Petroleum, and Valero – and there’s another close to Houston that might also be flooded, depending on how big the surge is when it reaches the Houston Ship Channel – ExxonMobil Refining.

If you drag the refining map over to Port Arthur, there’s two more that might be hit of the storm surge gets into Sabine Lake (unlikely, but possible) – Valero’s Port Arthur Refinery and Motiva Enterprises.

The three at highest risk combine to refine 798,000 barrels of oil a day. Add the ExxonMobil refinery and that jumps to 1.384 million barrels of oil per day. And if the two Port Arthur refineries I mentioned are damaged, then that’s another 565,000 barrels per day.

And if we include the other four refineries that are out of the flood zone but still in high wind damage areas (i.e. Houston), that’s yet another 860,000 barrels per day of oil refining capacity. Outside the flood area of Port Arthur are two more refineries with another 603,000 barrels of capacity at risk.

All told, Ike has the potential to directly damage via storm surge, wind, and rain-driven flooding 12 refineries in Houston and East Texas that combine to refine 3.412 million barrels of oil per day. As of the end of last week, the EIA data says that total barrels of oil refined in the U.S. was 13.483 million barrels. These 12 refineries at risk represent 25.3% of the entire U.S. refining capacity.

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