Hurricane Harvey Threatens Homes, Increases Energy Costs

Hurricane Harvey is not expected to hit the Texas Gulf Coast until late Friday or early Saturday, but it is already boosting the cost of crude oil and gasoline and raising concerns about $40 billion worth of homes in harm’s way.

The Gulf of Mexico region is home to nearly one-fifth of the nation’s crude oil output and almost half the refining capacity in the United States. Energy production could be hampered by storm winds; the shipping of crude oil and refined products could be prevented by flooding and storm surges; and the storm could damage complex, expensive refineries and other facilities.

Oil companies have evacuated people from some of their most vulnerable offshore facilities and have reduced or stopped production at some operations.

Crude oil prices rose Friday morning on concerns that storm disruptions could limit supplies.

Officials said Harvey’s storm surge could push seawater levels as much as 2 meters higher than normal for the threatened coastal area. That could place 200,000 homes, which could cost tens of billions to rebuild, in danger, according to CoreLogic, a firm that gathers and analyzes data on real estate.

More than half the threatened homes are in the Houston area, while many of the rest are around Beaumont and Port Arthur.

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