Crude oil prices are taking a serious hit from Hurricane Harvey, slammed on multiple fronts at a time when benchmark prices were already showing some signs of strain.
As has already been widely noted, Hurricane Harvey has knocked out major refineries along the Gulf Coast. Goldman Sachs said in a research note that an estimated 3 million barrels per day of refining capacity was offline, as of Monday. On Tuesday, ExxonMobil began winding down some operations at its Beaumont, TX refinery as the storm headed east towards eastern Texas and Louisiana. The outage at the 362,000 bpd facility would add to the region’s woes. Also, the U.S.’ largest refinery, Motiva’s Port Arthur facility, which produces over 600,000 bpd, has already curtailed its operations and was considering deeper reductions at the time of this writing.
Obviously, the outage of such a large volume of refining capacity is sending gasoline prices sharply up. But the effect on crude oil is the opposite – refinery outages mean a steep drop in demand. WTI is down nearly 5 percent since last week.