Delayed Texas Refinery Restarts and Adjusted Long-Haul Operations | Weekly News Update

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Texas refineries restarting, Lake Charles plants expected to take longer

The five Texas oil refineries shut ahead of Hurricane Laura are all planning to restart soon, although the two major refineries near Lake Charles, Louisiana, are expected to take much longer as they deal with widespread power outages and potentially more serious storm damage.

More than 2.3 million barrels per day of refining capacity was taken offline in advance of Laura’s landfall, including 674,000 barrels per day in Lake Charles. The US Department of Energy (DOE) was pleased with initial damage reports as they seemed “relatively light” at refineries and other energy infrastructure. The DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette said about 20,000 utility workers from 27 states are being deployed to Louisiana to help restore power “very, very quickly.”

 

Private Carriers Have Adjusted Their Operations for the Long Haul

The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping private carriers in ways that will last long after the novel coronavirus subsided. Companies that have large trucking fleets are rapidly adding digital tools and paperless methodology to their operations to reduce human contact and limit access to distribution centers. This has made them more nimble, especially in implementing new technology and finding new revenue sources. Fleets also are more aware of employee health and the role it plays in productivity.

 

Top Energy Stories

JWN: Oil industry shuts platforms, rigs, refineries before storm

The energy industry braced Wednesday for catastrophic storm surges and winds as Hurricane Laura cuts a dangerous path toward the coastlines of Texas and Louisiana.

WSJ: Exxon’s Departure From Dow Highlights Market’s Retreat From Energy Bets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s coming farewell to Exxon Mobil Corp. is the latest sign of the waning influence of America’s struggling energy sector. The blue-chip benchmark will include only one energy stock: Chevron Corp., which will represent just 2.1 percent of the price-weighted index, according to an S&P Dow Jones Indices analysis.

HOUSTONCHRONICLE: Rig count no longer in free fall

The U.S. rig count, which has been in a state of freefall since oil markets crashed in March, held steady over the past week in a growing sign that the drilling sector has hit bottom and is slowly recovering.

 

Top Freight Transportation Stories

SCDIVE: Regulators warn Class I railroads on service issues, ‘excessively late’ trains

The Surface Transportation Board and the Federal Railroad Administration issued joint letters to the seven Class I railroads on Monday, expressing concern over missed industrial switches and “excessively late or annulled” trains in recent months due to insufficient crew sizes.

TRANSDIVE: 6 places with the most potential for regional-haul electric trucks

Southern California, Northern California, Cascadia (the Northwest), the Northeast, the Texas Triangle and the Front Range (the Denver region) are the six regions that have the most potential for electric heavy-duty trucks, according to a report by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and the Rocky Mountain Institute. The report also looked at where diesel costs the most, and California and the West Coast consistently lead the regions in fuel costs.

HDT: Pilot Program Would Test 3-Hour ‘Pause’ of Driving Clock

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is asking for public comment on a pilot program to study the one part of the hours-of-service proposal that didn’t make it into the final rule: allowing drivers to pause their on-duty driving period with one off-duty period up to three hours.

WSJ: Shipping Lines Learn to Make Money By Balancing Supply and Demand

When countries began locking down their economies early this year in the face of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, the world’s container lines braced for a steep decline in shipping demand. Analysts warned that massive financial losses would soon follow at seagoing companies that carry the lion’s share of global trade.

Top Economic Stories

AP: More than 1 million Americans file for unemployment, again

Just over 1 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten jobs even as the housing market, auto sales and other segments of the economy rebound from a springtime collapse.

AP: Rates to stay ultra-low even after inflation picks up

The Federal Reserve announced a significant change Thursday in how it manages interest rates by saying it plans to keep rates near zero even after inflation has exceeded its 2% target level.

REUTERS: U.S. economic recovery hampered by wobbly performance in powerhouse states

Of the many tragedies in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic, among the largest was that the nation’s four economic powerhouses – California, Florida, New York and Texas – bolted to opposite corners early in an often politicized response to the crisis.

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