Ports along Texas coast close, restrict traffic as Tropical Storm Beryl approaches By Reuters

By Arathy Somasekhar

HOUSTON (Reuters) -Ports along the Texas coast started to close or restrict vessel traffic on Sunday to prepare for Tropical Storm Beryl, which was expected to strengthen back to a Category 1 hurricane before hitting the area late in the evening.

The storm, which at one point intensified to a Category 5 hurricane, left a deadly trail of destruction across the Caribbean. It swept through Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in addition to unleashing heavy rainfall on northern Venezuela.

The port of Corpus Christi said it was closed after condition “Zulu” was set by the Coast Guard captain on Sunday. All vessel movement and cargo operations are restricted as gale force winds were expected within 12 hours.

Corpus Christi, about 200 miles (322 km) from Houston, is the top export hub in the United States. Port closures could bring a temporary halt to crude oil exports, shipments of crude oil to refineries, and motor fuels from those plants.

Meanwhile the ports of Houston, Galveston, Freeport and Texas City were under condition “Yankee”. With gale force winds were predicted within 24 hours, all inbound vessel traffic was suspended at these ports.

Chemical maker Chemours, which has a production facility near Corpus Christi, said on Sunday it has integrated hurricane preparedness plans, including training and drills, in place to ensure its sites remain safe.

“We continue to closely monitor Beryl’s track and have escalated our hurricane preparedness plans to include planning for safe and adequate staffing during and after the storm and securing our equipment and assets, should the storm make landfall near our site,” the company said in a e-mailed statement.

Freeport LNG said it intended to maintain normal operations at its liquefaction facility, adding it will initiate weather emergency response plan if necessary.

Enbridge (NYSE:) and Gibson Energy (TSX:), which operate large crude oil export facilities near Corpus Christi, did not immediately reply to requests for comments on Sunday. They had said they were operational on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Citgo Petroleum Corp was cutting production at its 165,000 barrel-per-day Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery on Saturday, sources said.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A drone view shows boats secured as tropical storm Beryl continues to move through the Gulf of Mexico, in Playa Bagdad, Mexico July 6, 2024. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/File Photo

Citgo plans to keep the refinery in operation at minimum production during passage of Beryl to the east of Corpus Christi on Sunday, the sources added.

Some oil producers, including Shell (LON:) and Chevron (NYSE:), had also evacuated personnel from their Gulf of Mexico offshore production platforms ahead of the storm.

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