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Producers in Gulf of Mexico avoid major damage

US offshore oil producers and refiners on the Gulf Coast have begun to restart operations following limited damage from Hurricane Laura.

According to a US Government report, oil production in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico had been reduced by 84.3%, which is equivalent to 1.55 million barrels per day (bpd). Many upstream operators soon began work on restarting production. Shell, for example, said it had already begun to re-staff those operations that were unaffected by the recent storms, such as those in the Mars and Norphlet Corridors.

On land, meanwhile, nine refineries, which process crude oil into fuel and base oils for products like hydraulic oil, shut down before the storms. While Laura caused considerable damage, including power cuts and the loss of six lives, most refineries had been spared from the large-scale flooding that was feared.

Oil major ExxonMobil, the maker of Mobil lubricants, was quick to ready its Beaumont, Texas plant to begin processing 370,000 bpd of oil again. Valero Energy Corp did the same with its similarly sized plant in Port Arthur. The Port of Houston, which is a leading export hub for US oil, was also quick to make preparations to reopen to commercial vessels. Mizuho Securities reports that the 418,000-bpd plant run by Citgo Petroleum in Lake Charles, Louisiana had not been so lucky, however, with it reportedly needing four to six weeks to effect repairs.

Oil prices settled slightly lower on news of the limited damage.

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