Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Harvey and Irma's Impact on U.S. Supplies Shown Through Charts

  • Crude output dropped by most since 2012, then reversed course
  • Gasoline stockpiles tumbled by the most on record: EIA

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma’s effect on the U.S. oil industry is apparent within weekly data from the Energy Information Administration, which shows huge changes from inventories to refinery operations to exports. Many of these are already reversing as the industry recovers, with the charts making big "V" patterns:

Unwanted Oil

At one point in Harvey’s aftermath, almost one-quarter of U.S. refining capacity was shut including Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Port Arthur refinery, the nation’s largest. While Houston was still flooded, the port of Corpus Christi was reopening. That allowed U.S. crude exports to bounce back fast.

Production Picture

Meanwhile, producers sure made a quick recovery. At one point about 300,000-500,000 barrels a day of oil production was shut in the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas due to Harvey and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Statoil ASA among others were brought offline as the storm rolled through. That led to the largest drop in crude production since 2012 in the week ended Sept. 1, followed by the biggest gain in output since 2012 the next week.

Next Week’s ‘V’?

As Hurricane Harvey swirled over the Gulf Coast, making landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, refineries including those operated by Exxon Mobil Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. swiftly worked to shut plants down. This led to a squeeze in the available fuel supply and the biggest decline in U.S. gasoline stockpiles on record last week, an Energy Information Administration report showed Wednesday.

It’s not over yet. It’s likely the next few week’s of inventory reports will show some more wild swings, as refineries work to return to normal operations at a time when other plants are shutting for seasonal fall maintenance and the pre-storm spike in demand gives way to drivers staying off the roads.

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