Over 1 million in Texas without power, Freeport LNG restart pending after Beryl

By Arathy Somasekhar, Curtis Williams and Liz HamptonHOUSTON/FREEPORT (Reuters) -About 1.3 million homes and businesses in Texas remained without power on Thursday, four days after Hurricane Beryl lashed the state with fierce winds and flooding, sparking frustration among companies, officials and residents who were facing extreme heat. Around 1.1 million of those without power were customers of CenterPoint Energy, the state's largest provider. Another 1.17 million customers have been restored since Beryl's landfall near Matagorda, Texas, the company said.

The slow restoration of power continues hindering some companies' efforts to quickly return operations to normal, especially around Freeport, among Texas' largest energy hubs. However, most oil and gas companies have resumed normal operations after Beryl made landfall as a Category-1 storm.

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Freeport LNG, the U.S. third largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer, has not restarted gas processing operations after making initial preparations on Wednesday, according to sources. No vessels were docked at the LNG company's berths, but many power restoration crews were working in the area, according to a Reuters witness.

The company has not provided an operational update since Sunday, when it said it ramped down production at its liquefaction facility and intended to resume operations once it was safe to do so. "The major concern of the week over the impact of Hurricane Beryl on U.S. LNG production has receded," said consultancy Rystad's vice president, Wei Xiong, in a note to clients.

"U.S. liquefaction plants and LNG production were largely unaffected, with only Freeport LNG cutting production over the weekend," he added, noting that feedgas to the facility almost vanished to only 8.7 million cubic feet per day on Jul.

7 from nearly 2 billion cufic feet per day on Jul.

6. The port of Freeport reopened on Monday morning under vessel draft restrictions. It moved its first ship and said a survey would determine when the channel would be cleared for full operations.

Chemical maker Olin declared a force majeure for some product and aromatic shipments after Beryl caused damage to its Freeport facilities. The Texas Gulf Coast is home to massive oil and gas processing facilities, as well as export plants and chemical manufacturers. Texas accounts for 40% of U.S. oil output and 20% of the country's natural gas production.

Refineries, offshore production sites and ports saw limited damage and had largely returned to normal operations by Thursday. BACKLASH CenterPoint has been facing scrutiny over its preparations ahead of Beryl and speed of reaction.

In a letter to CenterPoint, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia called the slow restoration of power a public health crisis. The utility said on Wednesday it expected to restore power to an additional 400,000 customers by Friday and 350,000 customers by Sunday. In total, 2.26 million of its customers lost power in the storm.

"Crews have identified extensive tree damage across the company's system. Trees across the Greater Houston area were particularly vulnerable due to three unusual years of weather, including significant freezes, drought and heavy rain this past spring," CenterPoint said in a release. Temperatures in southeast Texas were expected to be in the low to mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit (low to mid-32 degrees Celsius) on Thursday, with heat indices in the 100s, the National Weather Service said on Thursday.

Damage from Beryl could cost insurers in the United States roughly £2.7 million, catastrophe modeling company Karen Clark & Co said on Thursday. (Reporting by Curtis Williams, Marianna Parraga and Arathy Somasekhar in Houston, Scott DiSavino in New York and Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Aurora Ellis) Disclaimer: This report is auto generated from the Reuters news service.

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