Tropical Storm Beta Shuts Houston Ship Channel

The Houston Ship Channel was shut and some offshore oil production was halted as slow-moving Tropical Storm Beta churned in the Gulf of Mexico and was expected to make landfall along the central Texas coast Monday night.

Tropical Storm Beta isn't a particularly powerful or large storm, with maximum sustained winds of around 50 mph, but its slow-moving nature could cause flooding up and down the Texas coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

The 50-mile-long Houston Ship Channel, a key waterway for the oil and gas industry that serves as a conduit for ocean- going tankers that import and export crude-oil and fuel, was shut to both incoming and outgoing vessels, according to the Houston Pilots group that helps navigate ships through the channel.

Offshore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, which has been curtailed several times in recent months due to previous hurricanes and storms, is producing 10% less than normal as of Sunday, according to the government's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. That percentage reduction is equivalent to about 179,000 barrels a day.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS/A) said late last week it had evacuated workers from one of its production platforms in the western Gulf due to Beta, and halted some production there as a safety precaution.

Further south along the Texas coast, the Port of Corpus Christi said it began restricting inbound vessels due to Tropical Storm Beta, and said it would continue to monitor the situation for any potential changes in direction or strength.

Write to Dan Molinski at

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  09-21-20 0946ET
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