Midwest flooding disrupts oil, crops
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