A Louisiana shipping channel used to supply crude oil to two big Gulf coast refineries has reopened to most ships but very large vessels may still not be able to get through, the U.S. Coast Guard reported on Monday.
A sunken drydock has been blocking the shipping channel in the Calcasieu River, just north of the Intracoastal Waterway
, since Tuesday, preventing deepdraft vessels, such as crude oil tankers, from passing through the area. The dry dock is still sunken, and not yet been salvaged," USCG said. "Very large vessels may not be able to bypass the sunken dry dock," it added.
The U.S. government last week said it was releasing 500,000 barrels of crude to Citgo Petroleum Corp.'s 310,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Lake Charles refinery from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve to alleviate crude supply problems.
Conoco Inc. said that it was lightering crude oil from tankers into barges to keep its refinery in Lake Charles, La., supplied as long as an obstruction to shipping prevented direct supply by tanker.
Conoco has temporarily reduced the amount of crude it refines at Lake Charles to 190,000 bpd and spokesman Carlton Adams said the company believed that lightering and increased supply via pipeline would keep the plant running until direct supplies by tanker could be resumed.
Eighty percent of the crude oil usually processed at Conoco's Lake Charles refinery is sour crude from Mexico or Venezuela that is delivered directly by tanker.