As we reported previously, Obama has found himself on the verge of another environmental scandal now that he has no choice but to redirect the Mississippi river via the Morganza spillway - either lose millions in barrels of daily refined production and potentially the impairment of the Colonial Pipeline, two events which would promptly cause gas prices to soar to new records, or redirect the river via the Spillway, and cause the flooding of millions of acres, and numerous towns and cities, and possibly another New Orelans bases crisis. It seems Obama has picked the lesser of two evils: i.e., protect the oil: "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Friday it anticipates opening the Morganza Spillway on the western bank of the swollen Mississippi River to divert floodwaters into the Atchafalaya River basin and protect Baton Rouge, Louisiana, New Orleans and refineries from flooding. The Corps of Engineers had been planning next week to open the spillway, about 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Baton Rouge, but could do so as soon as Saturday as high water continues making its way downriver." On the other hand, opening the spillway will also lead to plant impairments: " Opening the spillway will disrupt operations at Alon USA Energy's 80,000-bpd Krotz Springs, Louisiana, refinery. An Alon spokesman said on Friday that the plant was operating normally as crews continued to build a second levee to prevent Atchafalaya River waters from flooding the refinery within 10 to 14 days of the Morganza opening. The new levee will supplement existing levees." And there is more: it appears that not only are refineries in danger, but three nuclear power plants are also in danger of being flooded: Entergy's 1,176-megawatt Waterford nuclear plant in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana; its 978-megawatt River Bend nuclear plant in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and the 1,268-megawatt Grand Gulf nuclear station in Clairborne County, Mississippi."
Below are the refineries which are threatened unless the Morganza is open:
- Alon USA Energy <ALJ.N> Krotz Springs, Louisiana : 80,000
- Chalmette Refining <XOM.N> Chalmette, Louisiana: 192,500
- ConocoPhillips <COP.N> Belle Chasse, Louisiana: 247,000
- Exxon Mobil Corp <XOM.N> Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 504,500
- Marathon Oil Corp <MRO.N> Garyville, Louisiana: 436,000
- Motiva Enterprises <RDSa.L> Convent, Louisiana: 235,000
- Motiva Enterprises <RDSa.L> Norco, Louisiana: 234,700
- Murphy Oil Corp <MUR.N> Meraux, Louisiana: 120,000
- Valero Energy Corp <VLO.N> Memphis, Tennessee: 180,000
- Valero Energy Corp <VLO.N> St. Charles, Louisiana 185,000
And here are those in danger if the Spillway is open:
- BP <BP.L> America Production Co 10,703
- Petroquest <PQ.N> Energy LLC 8,757
- Apache Corp <APA.N> 4,986
- ConocoPhillips <COP.N> Inc 2,661
- Stone Energy <SGY.N> Corp 2,232
- Chevron <CVX.N> USA Inc 1,467
- Dune <DUNR.OB> Operating Co 1,407
- Swift Energy <SFY.N> Optg LLC 1,241
Additionally, the following traffic has been impaired:
The tanker Zaliv Baikal turned back from going to a dock in Baton Rouge because its captain didn't think the vessel had enough clearance beneath the I-10 Bridge over the Mississippi at Baton Rouge.
Berths at Exxon's docks in Baton Rouge were flooding on Thursday, which may make docking tankers difficult in the coming days, according to sources familiar with refinery operations. Exxon said the refinery continues to operate normally.
Barge traffic is moving along the Mississippi River with some restrictions and no closures. Barges were running near Baton Rouge, but facing difficult river conditions.
Mississippi River restrictions include length of barge (no greater than 600 feet), energy requirement (greater than 250 horsepower), speed (3 miles/hour) and prior notification requests before navigation starts. To that end, barge traffic is open in places like St. Louis and Memphis with restrictions.
Magellan Midstream Partners <MMP.N> said it discontinued operations at its 2.8 million-barrel storage terminal in Marrero, Louisiana, close to New Orleans, after it finished loading barges on Friday.
Nearly 20 percent of barge terminals that the U.S. Coast Guard monitors on the Ohio River remained closed on Thursday. The Smithland Lock and Dam at mile marker 918.5 on the river remains closed, obstructing barge traffic both up and downstream.