Is the Texas oil refinery the next global crisis?

Generation PZ
3 min readMar 17, 2021


Water and oil don’t mix, and apparently, neither does ice and oil.

Written by: Halima K

Texas produces around 4.6 million barrels of oil every day. That is A LOT of oil.

No wonder it’s the largest US crude-producing state in America and home to some of the largest refineries.

So, what’s happened to it?

A deep freeze struck Texas over the weekend of the 12th of February, this meant temperatures were below freezing and in the single digits Fahrenheit. For those who don’t know just how cold that is, there was a snowstorm, and Texas doesn’t see snow AT ALL most winters. So, that is crazy.

Understandably this had a negative impact on the energy industry, causing all oil refineries to shut and forcing restrictions from natural gas pipeline operators.

Photo credit: James Durbin, MBR / Associated Press

Here are some examples:

Motiva Enterprises (630,000 barrels per day), the largest refinery in the US, said it was shutting down its Port Arthur.

Citgo Petroleum Corp (167,500 barrel-per-day) said some units at its Corpus Christi refinery were being shut.

However, Exxon’s (369,024 barrels per day) refinery seemed to be operating at normal levels, although the company had warned nearby residents of flaring from the plant.

This is what Rystad Energy’s head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugen had to say about it:

“This may result in intermittent production shut-ins, with a moderate impact on Permian oil production expected in February,”

As well as this, the problem led to rotating blackouts and pipelines had to be halted due to power outages forcing 40% of the nation’s oil production offline (4million daily barrel output).

This was evidently a major concern as on the 15th of February, Joe Biden declared it an emergency and gave federal assistance to Texas.

Definitely not the best way to start the year.

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Biggest impacts of the freeze?

Consequently, this has meant that US crude production is to drop by more than 10% (one million barrels per day) while refining drops to levels not seen since 2008 during the great recession.

Moreover, the shutdowns led to refineries “flaring”, or burning and releasing gases, to prevent damage to processing units. This released high levels of air pollution, into our already fragile climate.

And that isn’t all. Five of the largest refiners emitted nearly 337,000lb of pollutants, including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide, all of which are heavily toxic gases, into the atmosphere.

I guess it’s safe to say that Texas’s carbon footprint will be pretty huge this year.

Is this a GLOBAL oil crisis?

With Bloomberg tweeting “what began as a big freeze in Texas is becoming a global crisis for the oil market” many have responded arguing otherwise.

One user stated: “There is no reason why this blip on the market should cause crisis in oil. It will warm up, and people should help one another until then. Democracy is about caring for all.”

I definitely agree with this point. There will always be situations that the world didn’t expect but that is where democracy plays its part. Countries should always try to help each other and provide support to other countries in need in order to reduce damages that could in turn have a global effect.

However, others have said:

“​So, who will start the rumour that there was deliberate sabotage to raise the price of oil?”

But I don’t think a rumour on an issue created by the weather would hold up, so for now, I think our focus should be on decreasing the amount of toxic gases being let into our environment, as without our environment, there’ll be no oil.

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Generation PZ

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