Tropical Storm Cindy threatens to hit oil refining, production centres

Tropical Storm Cindy

Tropical Storm Cindy is expected to approach the southwestern Louisiana coast on Wednesday. The Weather Channel image.

Tropical Storm Cindy affects gasoline prices

On Tuesday, oil refining and production facilities braced for the arrival of Tropical Storm Cindy, a system developing in the US Gulf of Mexico that is expected to move inland over western Louisiana and eastern Texas on Thursday.

The Gulf Coast storm forced the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port to suspend operations early on Tuesday morning, but the company said it does not expect any interruptions to deliveries at its hub in Clovelly, Louisiana.

Royal Dutch Shell says some of its offshore well operations were suspended on Tuesday, but production is currently unaffected.  Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66 and Motiva Enterprises say the potential storm has not impacted operations at its facilities.

According to the hurricane center, the storm is currently located about 265 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana and is expected to approach the southwestern Louisiana coast of Wednesday and move inland on Thursday.

The NHC warns that the storm could strengthen slightly before it reaches the coast and has extended warning for the storm westward to High Island, Texas and for heavy rainfall across most of the Gulf Coast.

The Miami-based forecaster said the weather system currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.

“Satellite imagery shows that the center of the disturbance is gradually becoming better defined, and it is likely that the system will become a tropical or subtropical cyclone later today,” the NHC said.

Tropical Storm Cindy could also cause tornadoes later on Tuesday from south-central Louisiana to the western Florida panhandle.

Reuters reports the storm has so far had little impact on crude prices, but gasoline prices rose as traders expected refineries along the Gulf Coast to face heavy rains which may result in flooding.

In its May outlook, WeatherBell Analytics LLC is forecasting 11 to 13 named tropical storms in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season which runs from June 1 to November 30.

There are an average of 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes every year.

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Posted in: USA

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