"Disasters Within Disaster" - Death Toll Rises To 30 As Texas Energy Crisis Hits Sixth Day

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Feb 18, 2021 - 11:55 AM

Update (1815 ET): ERCOT officials assured customers Thursday that various fuel types of power generation would come back online. 

There are several pieces of good news Thursday evening. 

First, PowerOutage.US shows only 350k customers are without power, a far cry from the millions just one day ago. 

Second, Autin wholesale power prices per megawatt-hour have yet to spike this evening. 

... and third, warmer weather trends are ahead for the Lone Star State this weekend. 

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Update (1420 ET): As Texas was battered by a polar vortex dumping Arctic air into the state and multiple winter storms that left millions of people without electricity and heat, essentially freezing in their own homes, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas left the state on Wednesday and traveled to Mexico. 

Cruz released this statement on Thursday afternoon:

This has been an infuriating week for Texans. The greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbors' houses. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too.

With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.

Cruz comes back to America just as power is being restored in Texas. 

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Update (1245 ET): ERCOT officials said Thursday morning that "significant progress" was made on Wednesday night in restoring customer power, though outages remained. 

"We're to the point in the load restoration where we are allowing transmission owners to bring back any load they can related to this load shed event," said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin in a statement. "We will keep working around the clock until every single customer has their power back on."

ERCOT officials said rotating outages might need to be implemented for the next couple of days to keep the grid stable. 

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Update (1123 ET): Reuters reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expects the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to examine Texas's energy issues that resulted in one of the worst controlled blackouts in the country's history. 

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Millions of Texans woke up for the sixth day on Thursday, as one of the nation's wealthiest states can barely supply electricity to its residents. The power crisis has spread well among its borders crippling Northern Mexico. 

According to NYPost, at least 2.7 million Texas households were without heat, electricity, or water on Thursday morning as a polar vortex air mass continues to linger in the Lone Star State. 

The death toll from the historic cold snap and multiple winter storms has increased to at least 30. Besides power plants, the deep freeze has crippled critical infrastructure systems across the state, such as water treatment plants and cellular networks. 

"This is in many ways disasters within the disaster," said Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which encompasses Houston. "The cascading effects are not going to go away."

In a note Wednesday, we asked if "Is Texas Facing A Humanitarian Crisis?" Come to find out, the answer is yes. The cascading effects of days without power have effectively transformed some parts of Texas into a third-world country. 

The local economy is in tatters as one-fifth of the nation's refining capacity has come to a screeching halt. Readers in other states should prepare for a surge in crude product prices, such as gasoline and diesel. Also, the state's oil and natural gas production has ground to a halt. 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he has forbidden gas producers from selling to power producers outside its borders through Feb. 21. 

The disruption has also spilled over into Mexico, where the US has curbed natural gas exports, resulting in power stations grinding to a halt. expands more on the chaos unfolding across Mexico's northern power grid. 

The plummeting natural gas exports from the United States to Mexico amid an Arctic cold spell in the country that has led to a gas demand surge is causing blackouts in northern Mexico, with some 4.77 million households and businesses left without power on Monday.

Argus noted that most of the natural gas Mexico receives from the United States comes from the Permian, where the production of both oil and gas has been affected by the cold weather that has caused power outages across Texas.

Oil wells are being shut down, and so are refineries along the Gulf Coast, Reuters reported earlier today, adding oil and gas pipeline operations were also disrupted by the weather.

The blackouts, Bloomberg reports, will strengthen the government's argument that Mexico needs to be less dependent on energy imports, with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spearheading the drive to reduce this dependency. Obrador wants to boost Mexico's domestic oil and gas production to tackle the problem, but this has proved challenging without the participation of private energy companies as the president seeks to fortify the dominant status of state energy major Pemex.

Refinitiv Eikon data shows natgas flow from the US to Mexico plunged 75% over the last week after Abbott directed a ban on gas producers exporting outside its borders. Power cuts have affected millions and led to automobile manufacturers shuttering operations this week because of the lack of natgas needed to power plants. 

There's also talk of an agriculture disaster in Texas as its citrus crop could amount to significant losses. The impact of the cold weather and storms won't be realized for another few weeks. Growers are already warning that crop losses could be substantial. Since Texas is the nation's third-largest citrus-producing state behind California and Florida, a loss in crop could result in skyrocketing prices - comes at a time when many Americans are dealing with soaring food inflation. At the same time, others can barely afford to pay rent and feed their families. 

Abbott released a statement earlier this week following the power grid collapse. He called for lawmakers to investigate the state's power grid operator "ERCOT." 

The worst is likely over as warmer temperatures could be seen by the weekend. But for weeks after, Texas will be dealing with a multitude of problems related to a power grid collapse that is still ongoing. 

To biggest takeaway from the largest controlled blackout in American history is that trust in private corporations and government to manage your well-being is set to collapse even further. Parts of Texas are effectively a third-world country this week - maybe being a prepper and storing a few cans of beans, a couple of coins of silver, a few Bitcoins, some ammunition, a generator, and clean water might not be a bad idea.