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Two refineries report damage

Refineries, chemical plants could reopen next week

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HURRICANE RITA

As of 5 p.m. ET
Location:
25 miles south-southwest from Shreveport, Louisiana
Latitude: 32.1 North
Longitude: 94.0 West
Movement: North 12 mph
Winds: 50 mph

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United States
Houston (Texas)
Oil and Gas

BAYTOWN, Texas (CNN) -- Damage was reported Saturday at two oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico area following Hurricane Rita, but the full extent of the damage from the storm is still being assessed.

Valero Energy reported that its recovery teams found "significant damage to two cooling towers and a flare stack" at its oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Shell Oil reported wind damage to its Motiva facility, also in Port Arthur.

Valero, the nation's leading refiner, said it will take "two weeks to a month to implement the necessary repairs and restart" its 255,000 barrel-per-day facility at Port Arthur.

The Valero plant was one of seven major refineries at greatest risk from Rita. The seven together normally refine 1.7 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Shell Oil said its 285,000 barrel-per-day Motiva Refinery at Port Arthur "has sustained wind damage including downed power lines and cooling water-tower damage."

Shell, which co-owns the refinery with Saudi Refining, did not know how long repairs would take or when the refinery may operate again.

A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute said it is too early to know how much damage Rita did to oil operations in the Gulf region.

Energy industry analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover told CNN that if damage to Gulf energy production infrastructure is limited, prices for crude oil, natural gas and gasoline futures will ease.

Fuel prices rose recently because of concern about how much damage Rita might do if it hit the refineries.

According to the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS), 100 percent of offshore oil production -- one and a half million barrels per day -- remains shut down because of Hurricane Rita evacuations, as does 75 percent of offshore natural gas production.

Exxon-Mobil, which operates the country's largest petrochemical refinery at Baytown says it does not know the status of the 557,000 barrel-per-day refinery, or the 338,000 barrel-per-day Beaumont, Texas refinery.

Conoco Philips says damage to its 239,000 barrel-per-day Lake Charles, Louisiana refinery is being assessed.

Energy Industry analyst Jon Kilduff said that, even in the best case scenario, it will take "10 to 14 days" days to return refineries to full operations.

He warned that structural damage is not the only concern; refineries depend on electrical power that may have been affected by the storm.

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