HOUSTON - US energy companies shut offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and started closing coastal refineries on Monday as fears Tropical Storm Isaac would batter the vital oil and natural gas region at hurricane strength.
Gasoline futures rose as the storm raised fears of a repeat of deadly hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike which damaged offshore operations and refineries, in some cases for months.
Fueled by warm Gulf waters, Isaac was expected to strengthen into at least a Category 1 hurricane and threatening to hit Louisiana midweek, seven years to the day after devastating Hurricane Katrina.
Marathon Petroleum Corp said on Monday it was initiating the shutdown of its 490,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in Garyville, Louisiana.
Phillips66 said it was in the process of shutting down its 247,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Alliance refinery in Belle Chase, Louisiana, and that the plant would be offline by late Monday.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said on Sunday Chevron Corp is "in the process" of shutting its 330,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in Pascagoula. Chevron declined comment on storm impacts.