Hurricane could shutter U.S. refineries

Oct. 29, 2012 at 7:34 AM

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Gasoline prices along the U.S. East Coast may climb as refinery operations in the region could be disrupted by Hurricane Sandy, an analyst said.

Sandy, a Category 1 storm, is moving slowly up the eastern coast. The storm is expected to strengthen as it heads north, cause a major storm surge, strong winds to coastal areas and heavy snows in the Appalachian Mountains as it moves along the Eastern Seaboard, the National Hurricane Center said Monday.

Refinery company Phillips said it was shutting its Bayway refinery in New Jersey ahead of the storm. Other companies like Hess made similar decisions last weekend as Sandy strengthened after moving north from the Bahamas.

Rick Spooner, an analyst at CMC Markets watching Sandy's effects from Australia, told Bloomberg News that refinery outages were expected.

"The primary consideration would be disruption to refinery infrastructure," he said. "That has the potential to disrupt markets and cause local and regional product shortages."

The U.S. Geological Survey said it was expecting major beach and dune erosion along the eastern coast as a hurricane storm surge develops.

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