Tropical Storm Harvey is en route to becoming Texas’ first full-fledged hurricane in nearly a decade, posing major flooding risks for cities as far inland as Houston while threatening the energy industry and oil production.
The National Hurricane Center issued a warning Thursday morning that Harvey has “intensified quickly” and is expected to devolve into a hurricane by the time it makes landfall. The federal agency warns of surge flooding that could bring 12 to 20 inches of rain—and, in some instances, as much as 30 inches—to parts of the Texas coast. Residents are advised to to complete precautionary measures by Thursday night.
Texas’ sprawling energy sector is monitoring the situation closely. As of Thursday, giants like Anadarko Petroleum Corporation were already pulling their employees from worksites surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.
Flooding and heavy rainfall could affect both onshore and offshore drilling. But an even bigger problem may be disruptions to refining capacity and oil transport. Texas has 29 petroleum refineries carrying a capacity of more than 5.4 million barrels of crude oil every day, making up 30% of total U.S. refining capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Natural gas prices have risen in anticipation of the hurricane, which would be the first one to hit Texas since 2008’s Hurricane Ike.