Houston Ship Channel Spill Closure Seen as Similar to Fog

The shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel following a fuel oil spill over the weekend will have an impact similar to that of a fog-related event, according to Valero Energy Corp., the world’s biggest independent refiner.

“For now this is looking like the same sort of impact as fog occasionally can have on the ship channel,” Greg Bram, senior vice president of supply chain at Valero, said today in an interview at the Howard Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans.

A shutdown that lasts longer than a week would cause a bigger problem, he said. Refiners can use more domestic crude amid shipment delays caused by the closure or send products through pipelines in the meantime, he said.

The 52-mile (84-kilometer) shipping lane, a key transit route for processed fuels and chemical feedstock from refineries along the Gulf Coast, remains closed as cleanup efforts continue following the weekend collision that led to the spill.

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