Oil industry shuts platforms, rigs, refineries as storm hits

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The energy industry braced for catastrophic storm surges and winds as Hurricane Laura cut a dangerous path across the coastlines of Texas and Louisiana, making landfall early Thursday.

Oil and gas producers evacuated platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and companies shut down refineries in the storm's path. Many had already done so while preparing for Tropical Storm Marco. Utilities face downed power lines and blackouts.

Oil prices have recovered somewhat, but are still well below what most producers need to stay in business. Benchmark U.S. crude was selling for about $43 a barrel Wednesday, while gasoline was selling for about $2.23 a gallon, according to AAA. This year, 60 oil and gas companies have filed for bankruptcy protection, according to law firm Haynes and Boone.

Experts say it's unlikely that the U.S. will suffer from major oil or gasoline shortages due to the hurricane, as other regions fill in the gaps or turn to stored oil. But with high summer demand, there could be some disruptions. While some oil production is temporarily suspended, experts say it's unlikely to cause problems for supply in the U.S. There has been a surplus of oil production this year, and demand for fuel is still well below pre-pandemic levels. Producers outside the region can pick up the slack.More than half of U.S. refining capacity is built along the Gulf Coast, a seeming magnet for such storms. Six refineries with a combined refining capacity of about 2.


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