Tropical Storm Barry Heads for Mexico Gulf Coast Oil Installations
Update: Veracruz and Mexico's three main oil exporting ports have been closed since Wednesday afternoon as the storm approached the coast.
Almost all of Mexico's crude oil exports, which totaled 1.275 million barrels per day in April, are shipped to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the United States from the ports of Coatzacoalcos, Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas.
Asked about the state of Pemex's installations in the Gulf of Mexico, a company official texted: "Everything is OK."
Tropical Storm Barry, the second of the Atlantic hurricane season, strengthened as it churned toward Mexico on Wednesday, threatening to bring heavy rains to oil and power installations near the country's Gulf coast.
The Minatitlan oil refinery of state oil monopoly Pemex and the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, both in Veracruz state, are being monitored closely, said Noemi Zoila, head of the local government's emergency services.
Mexico's three major Gulf coast oil export terminals - Coatzacoalcos, Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas - closed on Wednesday because of heavy rain and reduced visibility.
Barry was about 40 miles (60 km) east-northeast of the port of Veracruz, moving at 6 miles per hour (9 kph) as it approached land, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The storm's maximum sustained winds were 45 mph (75 kph), the center added, and a tropical storm warning was in effect along a costal stretch from Tuxpan to Punta El Lagarto.
The biggest impact was expected to be felt in southern and central parts of Veracruz state late on Wednesday and early on Thursday, said local emergency services spokesman Manuel Escalera.
Escalera added that the storm could cross Pemex's installations as well as hydroelectric dams. He said the state was prepared to offer temporary shelter to up to 500,000 people, and that all public schools would be closed on Thursday as a precautionary measure.
The first tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season, Andrea, formed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 5 and moved toward Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Copyright Reuters 2013.