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Barge hits propane pipeline in Port of Corpus Christi, causing explosion

A dredging barge hit a natural gas liquids pipeline at the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas early Aug. 21, causing an explosion, according to sources.

“Shortly after 8 a.m. CDT today Enterprise Products Partners (“Enterprise”) experienced a release of propane from a portion of its South Texas pipeline system at the Port of Corpus Christi. The incident resulted in a fire and unconfirmed reports of injuries,” Enterprise said in a statement. “Initial findings indicate that the pipeline was struck by a third-party dredging barge working in the immediate vicinity, however a full investigation will be conducted to determine the cause.”

Enterprise “has isolated the affected segment of the pipeline,” the company said.

The explosion was caused by the dredging barge Waymon I Boyd, said a spokeswoman from the United States Coast Guard Atlantic Area.

The US Coast Guard shut down vessel traffic in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Inner Harbor around 8 am Aug. 21, establishing a safety zone from the Inner Harbor Bridge at US Hwy 181 to the Viola Turning Basin.

The spokeswoman for the Coast Guard said there was no estimate for when vessel flow would resume in the safety zone.

The Inner Harbor channel, nicknamed Refinery Row, includes docks and terminals for companies including Citgo, Valero, Trafigura, Buckeye, and Plains Marketing. The channel also contains multiple bulk material terminals.

A Valero spokesperson said the company’s Corpus Christi refineries are operating under normal conditions and no Valero employees were impacted by the incident.

No impact was seen in refined products markets. The US Gulf Coast is well-supplied with gasoline and distillates because of low demand stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, no immediate market impact was felt on the clean or dirty tanker markets, with the length of the channel closure still unknown. Platts Analytics cFlow showed two Aframax tankers and one Suezmax tanker anchored inside the Inner Harbor, and for product tankers two Medium Range ships and one Long Range 1 tanker were shown anchored in the area.
Source: Platts

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