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Impact felt across south-east

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By Sheila McNulty in Houston

Published: September 26 2008 03:00 | Last updated: September 26 2008 03:00

The impact of hurricanes Gustav and Ike at the petrol pump are being felt not only in the energy capital of Houston but across the south-eastern US, writes Sheila McNulty .

The loss of 20 per cent of US oil and gas production for over two weeks, as the industry was forced to close offshore production for the storms, has been slow to resolve itself, leaving some stations rationing and others simply empty.

The hurricanes destroyed 52 offshore platforms and four drilling rigs, 29 platforms and one rig suffered extensive damage and 33 platforms suffered moderate damage. Six gas transmission pipeline systems were damaged, and the analysis of industry infrastructure is not yet finished. In addition, 20 per cent of US refining capacity was shut for hurricane Ike, which zeroed in on the heart of Gulf coast refining, and some refineries remain shut because of power cuts or limited fresh water supplies.

Some of the south-east, far away from the hurricane paths, is facing shortages because oil companies pulled fuel from other markets to ensure adequate supplies on evacuation routes, to enable residents in the storm’s path not only to get out ahead of the storm but to return home.

Juan Kemp, Shell Gulf coast operations manager, said demand had been three times higher than normal in this area. Shell sought to limit disruptions by leasing 35 generators it could deploy within 24 hours along the Gulf coast, but Shell still has up to 50 sites without power.

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