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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
Refineries return after Katrina
Chevron oil refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, flooded out by Hurricane Katrina
Flooded oil refineries have compounded the problem
US refineries closed by the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina are trickling back on-stream, oil companies report.

Two refineries are fully operational, while others are close to restarting.

The return of US refining capacity has combined with the supply of oil from international stockpiles to help lower prices from record levels.

Tuesday saw US crude fall $1.61 to $66.96 a barrel. Brent crude fell 18 cents to $64.67, having fallen 1.8% on Monday when US markets were closed.

Emergency supplies

The refineries which are coming back to life are receiving 12.6 million barrels of oil from the US's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Department of Energy said.

Europe, Japan and other members of the International Energy Agency are trying to provide stocks from their own reserves.

Exxon's huge 500,000 barrel a day installation at Baton Rouge, Louisiana is "fully operational", according to the department, along with Total's facility at Port Arthur, Texas.

Both had suffered reduced production because of the storm, as had a number of others in places as far afield as Illinois and Ohio.

Five more - all in Louisiana and previously shut down - have lit their flares, indicating they are either in the process of restarting operations or preparing to do so.

Starting up

The closure of the facilities hit by Hurricane Katrina meant that 10% of the US's refining capacity was knocked out of commission - as well as a sizable slice of oil and gas production, as rigs were evacuated and in some cases torn from their moorings.

Officials said that 30% of normal oil output was up and running, along with almost 50% of natural gas output.

But almost 30% of rigs and production platforms remained evacuated, and at least 20 rigs or platforms are reported damaged, sunk or missing.

Although more than half the eight refineries put out of action by Katrina are either up and running or in restart - being checked over in preparation for full-scale resumption of production - some look set to remain offline for weeks or even months.

Chevron's Pascagoula, Mississippi refinery and ConocoPhillips' Belle Chasse, Louisiana plant have suffered major damage, while another two are without power. Together they account for 690,000 barrels a day of refining capacity.

Refineries restarting
The status of US oil refineries shut by Hurricane Katrina
(all in Louisiana except where marked)
Owner Location Capacity (bpd) Status
Motiva Convent 235,000 Restarted
Motiva Norco 227,000 Flare lit - Midweek restart
Marathon Garyville 245,000 Restart begun on Monday
Valero Norco 185,000 Power restored - midweek restart
Murphy Oil Meraux 125,000 Relit but crude leak
Chalmette Refining Chalmette 190,000 Assessing damage
ConocoPhillips Belle Chasse 247,000 Assessing damage
Chevron Pascagoula, MS 325,000 Assessing damage

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