About 600,000 without power after Hurricane Laura, Energy secretary says

About 600,000 without power after Hurricane Laura, Energy secretary says
© Greg Nash

About 600,000 people are without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, according to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

“Approximately 600,000 or so are out of power,” he told reporters on Thursday. “The majority of that ... is in the Lake Charles, La., area [and] there is some across the border in Texas.”

The Lake Charles area was hit hard and a chemical fire has been reported.

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Brouillette also said that he’d be approving a request from a utility to provide emergency power later on Thursday. 

Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana early Thursday as a Category 4 storm, though it later weakened to a Category 2 event. 

Brouillette also told reporters Thursday afternoon that there has been some damage to oil and gas infrastructure, but noted that based on initial assessments, he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the damage is minor. 

“There is some damage to some of the facilities but it appears to be somewhat light. It is not significant in nature, meaning that the operations of these facilities will probably continue in very short order,” he said. 

The Colonial Pipeline, the largest refined products pipeline in the country never lost power and doesn’t seem to be damaged, he said, meaning that it will continue to carry energy “up to the northeast and we shouldn’t see too much in terms of shortages.”

The storm comes at a time of decreased oil demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, therefore government and industry didn’t express concern about supply. 

“We’re still in a period of depressed demand as a result of COVID so the inventories are still high across the industry,” Brouillette said. “I’ve not been made aware of any shut-ins as a result of the lack of refining capacity due to the hurricane passing through Louisiana, so I think at the moment everything seems to be steady.”