Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 storm that barreled into southeastern Texas on Friday evening, has shut down approximately a quarter of US gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Reuters, storm-related shutdowns have knocked approximately 428,568 barrels of oil per day off the US’ “roughly 1.75 million bpd pumped from the Gulf,” per the estimate of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. That’s up from a Friday estimate of 22 percent, when numerous oil production facilities were taken offline in preparation for Harvey’s homecoming.
Per the Associated Press, before the hurricane made landfall on Friday night, “Dozens of oil and gas platforms had been evacuated, at least three refineries had closed and at least two petrochemical plants had suspended operations.” If the storm continues dumping tens of inches of water across large swathes of Texas, as is expected, flooding in the Houston and Beaumont areas could continue to affect oil production.
The AP reported the Interior Department said personnel evacuated 86 of the 737 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf before the storm hit, contributing to the contraction. But analysts who spoke with the AP mostly predicted the shutdowns would have a minor and temporary effect on US gas-guzzling, with rises of five to 15 cents per gallon most likely, and a rise of 25 cents per gallon possible.
One fear going into Harvey was that the region’s heavy concentration of coastal oil and gas facilities put it at risk of a major disaster like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. A 2016 investigation by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune warned major storm damage to Houston petrochemical facilities could risk skyrocketing gas prices and flood shipping lanes with deadly toxins, wreaking ecological and economic havoc.
While reports have not yet indicated those warnings have come to fruition, officials are still assessing storm damage. Days of potentially catastrophic flooding ahead mean the region is not out of the danger zone yet, either.