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Ida Highlights Climate Risks for Industry

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The ripple effects from Hurricane Ida have been far-reaching for the oil industry. Market dislocations continue weeks after its landfall, while the storm has also shined a light on the impacts of climate change for US Gulf Coast oil sector. In addition to rising insurance premiums and the costs associated with repairs and investment in climate resiliency, disrupted trade flows, damaged infrastructure, and gyrating differentials all testify to how a changing climate is already affecting the oil market from the wellhead to action in derivatives markets. The hurricane continues to wreak havoc on product markets amid persistent downstream outages but impacts on crude output are also making themselves felt. In total, Ida is likely to shutter at least 40 million barrels of crude production. The modus operandi has less to do with damage to actual production platforms — although this did happen in some cases — but rather with the storm’s disruption of logistics infrastructure; Ida struck low-lying coastal areas of Louisiana with vehemence, closing several ports including the land-based counterpart to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (Loop), Port Fourchon. Highlighting the effects of warming waters and potentially higher sea levels, Fourchon experienced stronger storm surge during Ida than it did during Katrina, despite the two storms being of near identical strength and following a near identical path. Ida also damaged transfer stations for Royal Dutch Shell, pinching supplies of regional medium, sour staple Mars crude by some 200,000 barrels per day. Shell says this dynamic will persist through the end of the year.

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