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Phil Flynn

Phil Flynn is writer of The Energy Report, a daily market commentary discussing oil, the Middle East, American government, economics, and their effects on the world's energies markets, as well as other commodity markets. Contact Mr. Flynn at (888) 264-5665

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the U.S. energy industry is still trying to assess the damage and get back online. The BSEE reported that based on operator reports, it is estimated that approximately 94.6% (1,721,809 barrels) of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. BSEE estimates that approximately 93.57% of the gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. Oil prices have fluctuated but are lower on concerns that refinery outages may last weeks and that could lead to a backlog of crude oil production if oil should start coming back online today but it may end up going into storage if the refineries cannot run.

Gasoline futures spiked up then pulled back but generally added only a couple of pennies by the end of the day. We may see gasoline futures start to run up yet again if the reports from the refineries turn out to be bad. Gasoline exports should start hitting our shores in a couple of weeks but it’s still going to be difficult to know the outcome of the impact on gasoline prices until we get more information. I would assume in the next 24 hours we’ll get a better idea of exactly where we’re at and where we’re potentially going.

The impact on the market has already been felt. Natural gas prices got hit hard because at one point there were over a million people without power due to hurricane Ida. The Colonial Pipeline was shut down and was due to be restarted Monday night but hasn’t. That’s a sign of the progress we’re still trying make. The extent of damage to refineries is being discovered and it’s difficult to bring refineries back online when there is a lack of power.

It’s not only bringing refineries back online but it’s then transportation that is of concern. We have to get feedstock to the refiners as well. Grain prices got hit hard, especially corn, because the Mississippi was shut down. That caused grains for exports to be blocked. We’re going to continue to see other ramifications from the storm. The movements of the markets will be partially based upon the perception of how fast things can get back to normal.

On the plus side, Reuters reports that, “Mexican state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said on Monday that it has resumed 421,000 barrels per day in oil production and brought back online 125 wells following a deadly fire at an offshore platform on Aug. 22. The accident in the southern Gulf of Mexico at the offshore platform that is part of Pemex’s most productive oil field Ku-Maloob-Zaap, knocked out about 25% of Mexico’s total production.

Javier Blas of Bloomberg reported that, “Japan, the world’s 4th-largest oil consumer, struggling under Delta. Demand was again weak in July, down 7.8% vs July 2019. Since May, Japanese consumption has been weaker than expected due to the impact of the new variant on the recovery.

Argus Media gave this assessment. Hurricane Ida left behind widespread power outages in Louisiana as officials today begin the painstaking process of assessing damage from the storm. About 1mn households and businesses in the state were without power as of 6:30 pm ET today, while about 89,000 were in the dark in Mississippi, according to the website PowerOutage.US. Local power utility Entergy said that all eight transmission lines serving the New Orleans area were knocked out of service by the hurricane, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. It may take days to assess the extent of the damage to the grid in New Orleans and weeks before power is fully restored.

More than 2mn b/d of refining capacity in Louisiana was shut after the storm brought 150mph (240km/h) winds and nine-foot storm surge to areas near New Orleans, coastal Louisiana, and stretches of the Mississippi River yesterday. The region is also home to key facilities for offshore oil and gas support work, as well as ports and docks that handle a wide range of other commodities .

ExxonMobil shut down its 500,000 b/d refinery and petrochemical complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, today in the face of the widespread power outages and supply chain disruptions. Marathon Petroleum’s 565,000 b/d Garyville, Louisiana, refinery is “currently assessing a timeline safely resuming operations” after shutting down ahead of Hurricane Ida.

US offshore operators evacuated staff and shut nearly all oil production in the Gulf of Mexico before the hurricane. Around 95pc, or 1.7mn b/d, of offshore crude output and 94pc, or 2.1 Bcf/d, of natural gas

production were shut in as of 12:30pm ET today, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. This is a slight improvement over the percentages reported on 29 August.

Deliveries at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) have also been suspended because of the storm. LOOP, about 20 miles (32km) off the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana, is the only US port capable of fully loading Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs). Ports in Louisiana and Mississippi remained closed this morning as the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved inland.

New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemines, South Louisiana, St Bernard and the Venice Port Complex in Louisiana all remained closed to traffic. The Mississippi ports of Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula and Port Bienville, also remain closed according to the US Coast Guard.

The next couple of weeks, as far as oil inventories go, are going to be very messed up. We’re going to take things a day at a time until we get through the total damage assessment. As far as OPEC goes, more and more it looks like they’re going to follow through with their 400,000 barrel a day production increase and if there’s any surprises, it would be that the cartel decides to pause the increase to get a better handle on the impact on demand from covid.

Phil Flynn

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