Hurricane Harvey Forces Chemical Companies To Close

Aug. 30, 2017
For safety reasons and from the sheer power of Mother Nature, Houston-area companies are shutting down.

Hurricane Harvey is causing many chemical companies to close offices and operations. According to a press release from Chevron Corp., the company has closed its Houston offices amid the widespread flooding. Although based in San Ramon, Chevron has more employees and contractors in the Houston area — about 8,000 — than in any other place. Chevron said its Houston offices remain functional, but they have been closed for business except for a skeleton staff of “essential personnel.”

The Washington Post reported that ExxonMobil acknowledged August 29 that Hurricane Harvey damaged two of its refineries, causing the release of hazardous pollutants.

ExxonMobil said in regulatory filings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that a floating roof covering a tank at the company’s Baytown oil refinery sank in heavy rains, dipping below the surface of oil or other material stored there and causing unusually high emissions, especially of volatile organic compounds, a category of regulated chemicals.

CNN is reporting several other closures. According to an article on the CNN site, Motiva said it started closing its Port Arthur refinery "in response to increasing local flood conditions." The plant won't open until flood waters recede. Motiva had been steadily reducing production at the plant for days. Late August 29 it was running at only 40% capacity.

All refineries in the area have been severely affected by the storm. Another company, Valero, announced midday August 30 that it had ceased operations at its Port Arthur refinery.

"Due to flooding and potential power supply interruption, Valero's Port Arthur refinery has shut down in a safe, controlled manner," the company said in a statement.

Total Petrochemicals said it shut down its Port Arthur refinery after it lost power August 29.

Thirteen oil refineries remain offline due to the storm, and flooding has knocked out about 22% of the nation's refining capacity, according to the most recent update from S&P Global Platts, according to CNN.

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