Hurricane Irma threatens Florida and US oil demand

Diana Raicu

The most violent hurricane ever recorded will make landfall in the Deep South state of Florida this weekend but its course will not menace US oil supply

The week after Hurricane Harvey shut down four million barrels of refining capacity and caused the city of Houston to sink by two centimetres under the sheer tonnage of water, another storm is on course to hit the US coast.

Hurricane Irma has claimed the lives of at least 18 people and caused “apocalyptic” damage as it ripped through the Caribbean.

Meteorologists have projected that the storm will
arrive in South Florida on Saturday with Miami in its path. Miami is the fourth largest urban area in the United States, with a metropolitan population of 5.5 million.      

Deadlier than Harvey? Not in an oil context

Whereas Hurricane Harvey tore through the southern and western Caribbean Sea before entering the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall in Texas, Irma has battered through the North Atlantic and will assault the southern US Atlantic coast.

Harvey’s trajectory brought the US offshore industry into the crosshairs before striking Houston, America’s oil and gas hub ­and the refining capital of the continent.  

Unlike Texas, Florida produces
insignificant levels of oil and has little refining capacity that could be affected.

That said, the destruction of oil-dependent infrastructure and vehicles could see a slump in demand that continues for weeks.

The flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey has destroyed half a million cars, shrinking the need for gasoline in America’s fourth largest city, and the second most populous state in the union.

In 2005, as many as 570,000 cars were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, more than half of which were in New Orleans.