Several of the largest U.S. refineries shut on Friday, while heating and power prices surged as extreme cold and snow blanketed much of the United States, freezing oil and gas wells and knocking out power to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses.
A deep freeze enveloping most of the United States combined with a massive winter storm in the Midwest has left two-thirds of the nation under extreme weather alerts.
More than 1 million barrels of daily refining capacity in the U.S. Gulf is shut due to the freezing temperatures. That includes Motiva Port Arthur, which can process more than 600,000 barrels a day, making it the biggest refinery in the United States.
By early afternoon, more than 1.5 million U.S. homes and businesses were without power, largely in the Southeast and Midwest; North Carolina counted more than 187,000 without power.
"Crews are restoring power but high winds are making repairs challenging at most of the 4,600 outage locations," Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Heating oil and natural gas futures rose sharply in response to the cold. U.S. heating oil futures gained 4.6% while natural gas futures rose 3.5%.
In New England, gas for Friday at the Algonquin hub soared 361% to a near 11-month high of $30 per million British thermal units (mmBtu).
About half of the power generated in New England comes from gas-fired plants, but on the coldest days, power generators shift to burn more oil. According to grid operator New England ISO, power companies' generation mix was at 17% from oil-fired plants as of midday Friday.
ISO New England said its system was "looking OK" for the weekend and didn’t anticipate transmission system problems.
In West Texas, next-day gas at the Waha Hub jumped 22% to around $9 mmBtu, the highest since the 2021 freeze.
In New York, gas for Friday soared 346% to $28 per mmBtu, the highest since hitting a record $140 in January 2018.
Gas output dropped about 6.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) over the past four days to a preliminary nine-month low of 92.4 bcfd on Friday as wells froze in Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
That is the biggest drop in gas output since the February 2021 freeze knocked out power for millions in Texas.
One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
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