Business

Storm Harvey: Shell boss takes stock of disruption

Boat evacuation in Houston, Texas from Tropical Storm Harvey Image copyright Reuters

Shell boss Ben Van Beurden says Storm Harvey is a "major event" for the industry and the firm's staff in Texas.

Shell, which has its US base in the Texas city of Houston, has put some of its staff in emergency homes and closed two major facilities.

The storm, which earlier achieved hurricane status, has ripped through the US energy industry in the region.

However, Mr Van Beurden thinks the tropical storm will not have a major impact on its US oil production.

Large parts of Houston are under water, and more than 20 people are reported dead.

Thousands of people there have fled their homes in search of emergency shelter after record rainfall caused severe flooding.

The Shell chief executive said: "We've all seen the pictures. Many, many of our people - as with others as well - have been displaced... We've had to put people up in temporary accommodation."

"The disruption for our staff has been very substantial," he added.

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Media captionShell boss: Hurricane Harvey shut down refinery

Harvey's path through Texas and the Gulf of Mexico has struck at a region that houses a significant proportion of US oil and gas production and refineries.

The storm has shut down about 15 refineries in Texas, knocking out about a fifth of US refining capacity, according to the US Department of Energy. Additional refineries in the Gulf Coast region are operating at reduced rates.

Mr Van Beurden, who runs Europe's biggest oil company, said the storm ranks "right at the top" in terms of disruption.

Shell was forced to evacuate a deepwater facility, shut a large refining petrochemicals complex, and has faced major disruption in the shipping channel in the area.

Despite the refinery closures, Mr Van Beurden said he thought the impact on oil production - and the price of oil - would be "limited".

"I don't expect to see some disruption on world markets as a result of this," he said.

Damage reported includes at ExxonMobil's Baytown refinery, where flooding damaged a roof, leading to a chemical release.

Image copyright EPA

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