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Power outages in Texas hinder Hurricane Beryl recovery, delay port and infrastructure restarts



Power outages in Texas hinder Hurricane Beryl recovery, delay port and infrastructure restarts

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A flaring stack in Port Comfort in Port Lavaca, Tex, on July 7.MARK FELIX/Getty Images

About 1.7 million customers remained without power in Texas on Wednesday morning, two days after Hurricane Beryl made landfall, as progress was slow during the night, hampering efforts to restore critical oil infrastructure.

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday near the coastal town of Matagorda, about 100 miles (160 km) from Houston, lashing Texas with heavy winds that knocked down multiple power lines and caused property damage.

Reinsurance broker Gallagher Re has estimated that U.S. economic losses from Beryl would be at least $1-billion as damage assessments remain ongoing, while weather forecasting firm AccuWeather issued a preliminary estimate of $28-billion to $32-billion in total damage and economic loss.

About 1.4 million of the 1.7 million people without power were customers of CenterPoint Energy, the state’s largest provider.

CenterPoint said on Wednesday it had restored power to more than 615,000 customers in the last 24 hours, adding that it remains confident it will restore 1 million impacted customers by the end of the day.

Some customers have questioned whether CenterPoint had enough crews in place ahead of the storm. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said an analysis would be conducted after power is restored.

CenterPoint said its crews were positioned in locations where they would be safe when the storm hit, and were deployed on Monday when the landfall site was known as soon as it was safe to do so.

Freeport LNG, the third-largest liquefied natural gas facility in the U.S., reduced production on Sunday and has not provided an operational update since then.

Ports along the Texas Gulf Coast, which had shut in ahead of the hurricane, were reopening with some restrictions.

The Port of Houston said it would reopen on Wednesday, after allowing some in-bound vessels, also with restrictions.

Some cruise operations restarted at the Port of Galveston, while cargo operations were expected to resume on Wednesday. Some port facilities in Galveston were impacted by lack of power on Tuesday, limiting operations.

The Port of Freeport said it was open and operating, while shipping agents said certain traffic restrictions remained in place. Port facilities were running on backup power as utility crews worked to restore power, the officials for Freeport said in a statement on Tuesday.

Refineries and offshore production facilities saw limited damage and had largely returned to normal operations.

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