CALGARY – A deep freeze is roiling electricity markets in more than a dozen U.S. states, leading to record-setting prices for electricity and natural gas, knocking oil production off line and shutting down some of North America’s largest refineries.
“It’s freakishly cold,” said Eric Fell, a senior natural gas analyst with Wood Mackenzie in Houston, where record cold temperatures and snow have blanketed the city, caused rolling power outages, shut down refineries and sent both natural gas and electricity prices soaring.
The polar vortex has led to freezing temperatures in every county in Texas, the largest energy-producing state in the U.S., and caused massive disruptions across the North American energy complex, triggering power outages as far south as Mexico.
As the plunge in temperatures forced oil companies to shut in an estimated one million barrels of oil production in Texas on Monday, the West Texas Intermediate benchmark price rose above the US$60 per barrel threshold for the first time in a year to settle up 1 per cent, or US65 cents, at US$60.12 per barrel.
President Joe Biden declared an emergency on Monday, unlocking federal assistance to Texas.
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