Mid­west flood­ing dis­rupts oil, crops

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Bar­bara Pow­ell and Tim Loh

hous­ton » The worst flood­ing across the Mid­west in four years is dis­rupt­ing ev­ery­thing from oil to agri­cul­ture, forc­ing pipe­lines, ter­mi­nals and grain el­e­va­tors to close and killing off thou­sands of pigs.

Fifty miles of the Illi­nois River have been closed, ac­cord­ing to the U. S. Coast Guard, aswell as 81 miles of the Mis­sis­sippi River in two seg­ments.

The flood­ing is the worst sinceMay 2011, when ris­ing wa­ter on the Mis­sis­sippi and its trib­u­taries del­uged cities, slowed barge traf­fic and threat­ened re­fin­ery and chem­i­cal oper­a­tions. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in­creases stock­piles of crude oil and might ex­tend this year’s price slide.

Hog pro­duc­ers in southern Illi­nois are call­ing other farm­ers, hop­ing to find ex­tra barn space to­move their pigs, said Jen­nifer­Tirey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Illi­nois Pork Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

Pro­ces­sors are send­ing out ad­di­tional trucks to re­trieve mar­ket- ready pigs, she said. In one case, an over­flow­ing creek took out elec­tric­ity and made roads im­pass­able, caus­ing 2,000 pigs to drown.

“There was no way to get the pigs out,” Tirey said. “Hon­estly, it was just an act of God. That creek had so much rain.”

So far, the big­gest oil shut­down in­volves En­bridge Inc.’ s Ozark pipe­line, which was booked to carry about 200,000 bar­rels a day last month to Wood River, Ill., from Cush­ing, Okla. The out­age of the sec­tion un­der the Mis­sis­sippi River might fur­ther add to stock­piles at Cush­ing that reached a record high last week.

“The clo­sure of the Ozark pipe­line will just add to the stocks at Cush­ing,” said Am­rita Sen, chief oil econ­o­mist at En­ergy As­pects Ltd. in Lon­don.

Spec­tra En­ergy Corp. shut the 145,000 bar­rel- aday Platte oil pipe­line be­tween Guernsey, Wyo., and Wood River as a pre­cau­tion be­cause of the river’s con­di­tion, the com­pany said in an e- mailed state­ment.

On Wed­nes­day, Ameren Mis­souri be­gan fer­ry­ing employees to and from its Sioux En­ergy Cen­ter north of St. Louis. The coal- fired power plant is op­er­a­tional, and work­ers will con­tinue to travel by boat un­til the flood­wa­ters re­cede, the com­pany said in a state­ment.

Kinder Mor­gan Inc. shut its Ca­hokia ter­mi­nal in Sauget, Ill., and it­sCora ter­mi­nal in Rock­wood, Ill., com­pany spokesman Richard Wheat­ley said by email.

Ca­hokia han­dles chem­i­cals, coal, ce­ment and met­als, while Cora han­dles coal and pet­coke, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s web­site. Kinder Mor­gan de­clared a force ma­jeure, which pro­tects it from­li­a­bil­ity for con­tracts that go un­ful­filled for rea­sons be­yond its con­trol.

Exxon Mo­bil Corp. is shut­ting a fuel ter­mi­nal on the Mis­sis­sippi River at Mem­phis “in an­tic­i­pa­tion of se­vere weather,” spokesman Todd Spitler said in an e- mailWed­nes­day.

Barge op­er­a­tors ship­ping grain took ad­van­tage of early fore­casts for the heavy rain and flood­ing to trans­port loads be­foreChrist­mas to ports in New Or­leans, where there’s “ad­e­quate in­ven­tory,” said Wes Traina, lo­gis­tics man­ager for ZenNoh Grain Corp. in Con­vent, La. Still, high wa­ter might con­tinue to slow ship­ping and load­ing through­out Jan­uary, he added.

“The big­gest con­cern from the high wa­ters and fast cur­rents will be from barges hit­ting a bridge and break­ing apart,” Traina said by phone. “It’s in­evitable that ac­ci­dents will oc­cur.”

The southern Illi­nois coop Gate­way FS Inc. has closed three of its grain el­e­va­tors. Employees are work­ing ex­tended hours to ac­com­mo­date the large num­ber of farm­ers haul­ing in grain from on- farm bins that could be com­pro­mised by flood­ing, said gen­eral man­ager Carl Tebbe.

“We’re just hope­ful the wa­ter doesn’t quite get as high as what they’re say­ing,” Tebbe said. “Ev­ery­one has done a lot of work.”

DaleVonTal­ge­mon­i­tors two pumps pulling­wa­ter froma stressed street drain in Kimm­swick, Mo. Flood­wa­ter­swere re­ced­ing in some ar­eas. Lau­rie Skrivan, St. Louis Post- Dis­patch

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