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U.S.: Katrina may shut refineries for months

Some U.S. oil refineries shut by Hurricane Katrina may be able to restart operations within one to two weeks, but others make take "several months" to resume making gasoline and other petroleum products, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday.
/ Source: Reuters

Some U.S. oil refineries shut by Hurricane Katrina may be able to restart operations within one to two weeks, but others make take “several months” to resume making gasoline and other petroleum products, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday.

“Unlike 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, which affected oil production facilities and had a lasting impact on crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, it appears that Hurricane Katrina may have a more lasting impact on refinery production and the distribution system,” the EIA said in its most recent update on the effects of the hurricane on the energy sector.

The Energy Department’s analytical arm said nine major oil refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi remained shut from the hurricane.

Those refineries account for about 11 percent of total U.S. refining capacity.

With less production of gasoline, motor fuel prices have jumped around the country, with pump prices in Atlanta topping $5 a gallon.

President George W. Bush earlier Thursday urged Americans to conserve gasoline while supplies are disrupted, and promised the government would go after oil companies that gouged consumers at the pump.