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U.S. energy firms tally damages from Hurricane Sally, begin restarts

Credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN BACHMAN

Storm-tossed U.S. offshore energy producers and exporters began clearing debris on Thursday from Hurricane Sally and booting up idle Gulf of Mexico operations after hunkering down for five days.

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Storm-tossed U.S. offshore energy producers and exporters began clearing debris on Thursday from Hurricane Sally and booting up idle Gulf of Mexico operations after hunkering down for five days.

The storm toppled trees, flooded streets and left almost 500,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and Florida without power. Sally became a tropical depression on Thursday, leaving widespread flooding along its path with up to a foot (30 cm) of rain falling in parts of Florida and Georgia.

Crews returned to at least 30 offshore oil and gas platforms. Chevron Corp CVX.N began restaffing its Blind Faith and Petronius platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, following Murphy Oil Corp.'s MUR.N restart.

Bristow Group, which transports oil workers from a Galliano, Louisiana, heliport, resumed crew-change flights to facilities in the west and central Gulf of Mexico.

"We are making flights offshore and experiencing a slight increase in outbound passengers," said heliport manager Lani Moneyhon.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a deepwater oil port that handles supertankers, reopened its marine terminal after suspending operations over the weekend.

Sally had shut 508,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production and 805 million cubic feet of natural gas, more than a quarter of U.S. Gulf of Mexico output, and halted petrochemical exports all along the Gulf Coast.

About 1.1 million bpd of U.S. refining capacity were offline on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Energy Department, including two plants under repair since Hurricane Laura and another halted by weak demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crude weakened early Thursday with U.S. futures CLc1 down a fraction and trading below $40 a barrel. Gasoline futures RBOB inched higher in early trading, continuing gains this week.

Phillips 66 PSX.N, which shut its 255,600-bpd Alliance, Louisiana, oil refinery ahead of the storm, said it was advancing planned maintenance at the facility and would keep processing halted.

Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L's Mobile, Alabama, chemical plant and refinery reported no serious damage from an initial survey, the company said. Chevron said its Pascagoula, Mississippi, oil refinery operated normally through the storm.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis)

((Erwin.Seba@thomsonreuters.com; +1 713-210-8513;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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