America’s Energy Corridor Narrowly Averts Direct Hit From Laura

More than 10% of U.S. refining capacity is clustered near the Texas-Louisiana border. Gas flares fire at the Phillips 66 refinery in Lake Charles, La., on Aug. 26.

Photo: Bryan Tarnowski/Bloomberg News

Hurricane Laura appeared to narrowly miss the heart of America’s fuel-making and chemicals infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, where companies and officials were assessing damage Thursday morning.

The hurricane made landfall overnight in southwestern Louisiana with wind speeds of around 150 miles an hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm has weakened since moving inland.

While the storm’s path just east of the Texas-Louisiana border missed the heaviest concentration of energy facilities in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, the harder-hit Louisiana side is also home to refineries and natural gas export facilities. Their condition was unclear Thursday morning.

More than 10% of U.S. refining capacity, capable of processing more than two million barrels of oil a day, is clustered near the Texas-Louisiana border around Lake Charles, La., according to Mizuho Securities USA LLC.

In the Port Arthur, Texas, area, Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s Motiva facility, the nation’s largest refinery, was among those shutting down in advance of the storm. Total SA and Valero Energy Corp. also said they were closing nearby fuel-making facilities.

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