Biden pledges federal help for restoring power after Hurricane Ida

FILE PHOTO: Nearly all of Louisiana lost electrical power on Monday after Ida downed transmission lines and flooded communities, leaving more than 1-million customers without power.
FILE PHOTO: Nearly all of Louisiana lost electrical power on Monday after Ida downed transmission lines and flooded communities, leaving more than 1-million customers without power.
Image: REUTERS/Devika Krishna Kumar/File Photo

US President Joe Biden held a call with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and the CEOs of two of the largest utilities in the Gulf Coast - Leo Denault of Entergy and Tom Fanning of Southern Co - on restoring power after Hurricane Ida.

Biden committed to giving them help from the federal government to expedite power restoration efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi, the White House said in a readout of the call.

Widespread flooding from Hurricane Ida and power outages on Tuesday slowed efforts by energy companies to assess damages at oil production facilities, ports and refineries.

Nearly all of Louisiana lost electrical power on Monday after Ida downed transmission lines and flooded communities, leaving more than 1-million customers without power. Coastal areas were swamped by a storm surge so great it reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.

Analysts said it could take two to three weeks to restart producing platforms and fully resume output at Louisiana refineries. Restoring power, critical to refineries, also could take weeks, utilities officials said.

"This restoration is not going to be a likely quick turnaround," said Rod West, head of utility operations at Entergy Corp. "This was a significant catastrophic wind event, whereas Katrina was a water event by comparison."

Disruptions at oil infrastructure are testing US fuel distribution systems. Operators shut offshore oil and gas pipelines that feed processing plants.

On Tuesday, the Colonial Pipeline - the largest fuel line to the East Coast - restarted main gasoline and distillate lines it had shut ahead of the storm.

Phillips 66 has yet to begin damage assessments at its 255,600-barrel-per-day refinery on the Mississippi River in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, a spokesman said. The plant, which was put up for sale last week, was swamped when a nearby levee failed.

Floods have been reported at other facilities in Louisiana. Nine refineries have reduced production or shut operations, including Exxon's 520,000-bpd Baton Rouge, taking offline 2.3-million bpd of capacity or 13% of the country's total, the US Department of Energy estimated.

Reuters


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