Hurricane Irma hits fuel supply

Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2017/9/7 17:48:40

Caribbean refineries, storage facilities threatened

Hurricane Irma has shut down oil terminals across the northern Caribbean, worsening a fuel supply crunch in Latin American countries that have struggled to meet demand since Hurricane Harvey disrupted shipments from the US Gulf Coast in August.

Latin America had already been scrambling for almost two weeks to find cargoes because of Harvey. Irma is threatening Caribbean refineries, terminals and storage facilities.

There is over 100 million barrels of storage capacity in the Caribbean, which is crucial for those nations because of limited ability to refine crude, and also as supply for South American nations.

Several oil trading firms had moved a portion of their US fuel inventories to the Caribbean ahead of Harvey so they could keep selling cargoes to Latin America, traders from two companies said.

Those barrels are now locked in terminals in St. Eustatius, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, as Irma, a Category 5 storm with winds of 185 miles per hour, is expected to hammer the region for several more days before turning north.

"Irma is arriving in a bad moment. Not all oil storage facilities in the Caribbean have closed, but vessel traffic is difficult in the middle of the storm. It will get worse before getting any better," said a trader from an oil firm that rents tanks in St. Croix.

US-based Buckeye Partners, the largest owner of oil storage facilities in the Caribbean, with 41.1 million barrels of capacity, said it shut its Yabucoa terminal in Puerto Rico.

NuStar Energy on Tuesday closed its 13 million barrel Statia terminal in the small island of St. Eustatius.

Firms leasing tanks in closed terminals in St. Eustatius, St. Croix and Puerto Rico include Venezuela's state-run PDVSA, China's Sinopec and Russia's Rosneft, according to the sources and Reuters vessel data.

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