© Reuters. A satellite image shows Hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico and approaching the coast of Louisiana, USA, on August 29, 2021. NOAA / Prospectus via REUTERS
By Liz Hampton and Marianna Parraga
(Reuters) – Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 storm near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, whipping US oil infrastructure with winds of up to 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour).
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, halted deliveries ahead of the storm after forecasts indicated potential impacts to its operating areas.
LOOP’s marine terminal is located in open water approximately 18 nautical miles (29 km) off the coast of Louisiana, while Port Fourchon is its land base.
The port of Louisiana is the only deepwater terminal in the US capable of offloading supertankers. It handles 10-15% of the country’s domestic oil, 10-15% of domestic foreign oil imports, and is also connected to about half of the US refining capacity, According to the Port Fourchon website. It serves 90% of the deepwater oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
As of Sunday, more than 95% of the Gulf of Mexico oil production in the United States was suspended, representing about 1.74 million barrels per day of production, according to the offshore regulator. The Gulf supplies about 17% of the country’s oil.
Ida escalated faster than officials predicted, prompting evacuations along the Gulf Coast and business closures. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned Saturday that it could be the state’s worst direct hit since the 1850s.
Other ports in southern Louisiana, including Houma and the port of New Orleans, were closed Sunday. In Mississippi, the ports of Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula and the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway were closed.
LOOP was formed in 1972 and became a limited liability company in 1996 as a joint venture between Marathon Pipe Line, Shell (LON 🙂 Oil Company and a unit of Valero Energy (NYSE :).
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