The closure of major Texas shipping channels that deliver crude oil to more than a 10th of the US’ refining capacity was set to run into a third day and could continue through the week as crews were still working on Sunday night to clean up after an oil spill.
The Houston Ship Channel, which allows oil barges and cargo ships to sail from the Gulf Coast to refiners and terminals further inland, was shut on Saturday following a collision between a Kirby Inland Marine oil barge and a cargo ship, spilling about 4,000 barrels, or 636,000 liters, of residual fuel oil.
A warning to mariners issued by the US Coast Guard on Sunday said portions of the Houston Ship Channel and its offshoots to Texas City and Galveston, Texas, along with a portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway could be shut through Saturday or longer depending on the requirements of the cleanup. Kirby Inland Marine is operated by Kirby Corp.
There were signs of progress on Sunday. US Coast Guard Captain Brian Penoyer said cleanup crews have pumped all remaining fuel oil from the barge, which is partially sunken near the entrance to the channel.
The barge has been refloated and moved to a different position near the site of the collision in the channel.
The channel will remain shut “until clean water is assured,” Penoyer told reporters at a news conference in Texas City.
A local official said the channel was expected to be shut well into yesterday.
The outage has yet to impact operations at Exxon Mobil Corp’s 560,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Baytown, Texas, the US’ second-largest, company spokesman Nicolas Scinta said.
Representatives for seven other refineries in Houston and Texas City, Texas, did not reply to requests for information about possible reductions in production.
A Kirby-operated barge carrying fuel oil collided with a ship carrying rice at nearly the same location on March 14. In that accident, the cargo ship was damaged, but no fuel oil was spilled.
The Ship Channel is a 17m deep pathway for barges and deep-draft ships cut into the floor of Galveston Bay, which averages 6m in depth.
The spill is far smaller than that by the Exxon Valdez tanker, which struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989. A total of 41 million liters of heavy black crude oil were estimated to have been released by the Exxon Valdez.
In contrast, only one tank on the barge was ripped open by the collision with the cargo ship in the Houston Channel on Saturday, releasing an estimated 636,000 liters.
Wildlife Response Services, a Texas-based wildlife rehabilitation service, is helping affected birds and marine life.
Fewer than 10 birds covered with oiled have been sighted and brought in for recovery, the US Coast Guard said.
As of Sunday evening, 24 vessels are skimming from the waterway, the US Coast Guard said. More that 21km of floating barriers have been deployed to contain the spill. Another 43km of barriers are on standby for use if needed.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
ROW: A probe would determine if the rights of shareholders who were not allowed to vote yesterday had been violated, while the stock exchange also wants answers The election of board directors yesterday at Tatung Co (大同) sparked controversy after the company blocked some institutional and individual shareholders from participating in the general shareholders’ meeting, prompting the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to announce that the vote would be investigated. Lin Kuo Wen-yen (林郭文艷) was re-elected as chairwoman of the household-appliance maker’s nine-member board, but prior to the vote she announced that several shareholders would not have voting rights. They were being denied a vote because they had contravened the Business Mergers and Acquisitions Act (企業併購法), and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and