Oil prices are up, are refinery shutdowns to blame?

News reports show winter weather is stalling U.S. oil producers as crude prices shoot upward

Inclement weather over a large swath of the country is doing more than causing power outages and canceling flights. News reports say cold weather has shut down several U.S. oil refineries, causing crude prices to spike.

LyondellBasell Industries shutdown the large crude distillation unit and two hydrotreaters on Friday at its 268,000-barrel-per-day Houston refinery due to extreme cold and the winter storm impacting much of the U.S. and Gulf Coast, Reuters reported, citing sources.

The global chemical company says Houston Refining is one of the largest refineries in the U.S. designed to process heavy-sulfur crude oil. 

Data compiled by the U.S. National Weather Service showed temperatures in Houston fell 45 degrees on Thursday from a high of 63 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of 18 degrees Fahrenheit. 

LyondellBasell's Houston, Texas, refinery is among North America’s largest full-conversion refineries capable of processing significant quantities of heavy, high-sulfur crude oil. (Photo: LyondellBasell)

BRUTAL WINTER STORM KNOCKS OUT POWER FOR OVER A MILLION AMERICANS

A spokesperson for the Houston-based refinery told FOX News on Friday, "Our LyondellBasell U.S. Gulf Coast sites continue to conduct detailed assessments stemming from Winter Storm Elliott, but for competitive reasons, we do not provide specific details about units, their operational status, production figures or supply."

"Our focus remains on ensuring the health and safety of our people and the communities where we operate. We may need to conduct some flaring to ensure safe operations," the spokesperson continued. "Flares are a safety feature designed to burn excess material resulting from certain routine operations as well as some non-routine situations, such as power loss or equipment failure."

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our community neighbors."

LyondellBasell Industries

.
Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LYB LYONDELLBASELL INDUSTRIES NV 95.91 -0.42 -0.44%
MPC MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP. 168.79 -5.56 -3.19%

First Squawk, citing sources, tweeted that Marathon Petroleum shut down its refinery in Galveston Bay while PiQ tweeted that Motiva Enterprises idled its facility in Port Arthur.

Marathon's Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City, Tex. has a capacity of 593,000 barrels per calendar day.

The Port Arthur refinery has a capacity of 630,000 barrels a day. 

As crude prices spike in the wake of the winter storm and rumors of refinery shutdowns, oil is up roughly 3.21% to $79.98 a barrel halfway through the abbreviated trading day, while oil producers like Hess, Chevron, and Exxon Mobile all hover well into the green after posting losses for most of the week. 

CHRISTMAS TRAVEL: SEVERE WEATHER CAUSES MASSIVE FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WTI W&T OFFSHORE 2.13 -0.10 -4.47%
HES HESS CORP. 145.87 -2.16 -1.46%
CVX CHEVRON CORP. 154.18 -2.33 -1.49%
XOM EXXON MOBIL CORP. 110.93 -1.25 -1.11%

TRACK THE STORM WITH FOX WEATHER