Wednesday, January 09, 2013

An H-Town Roundup

-- The Chron put their endorsement in the SD-6 special election behind their new paywall. (Psst: it's "pick one of Garcia or Alvarado".) No, I am not willing to pay to read that.

-- Get your flu shot.

This influenza season is shaping up to be one of the earliest and worst in years, with the flu-sick and those with respiratory illnesses that masquerade as influenza clogging Houston-area clinics, emergency rooms and doctor's offices.

According to local health officials, most of those who have become ill did not get the flu vaccine.

Get your flu shot. Don't be all Alex Jones about it, either.

-- Gasoline prices will be back up to four bucks a gallon sooner than you think.

The fuel price forecasting website says Houston area gas should crest between $3.85 and $4.15 a gallon sometime this spring. Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst with Gas Buddy.

“Prices generally will start a bit sluggish this year, prices moving up in January and February just slightly, and then the accelerator gets hit in March, and that lasts for about a month or so.”

DeHaan says the wild card will be refinery performance.

“In the past year, a major refinery in Houston, the Motiva refinery, opened a 300,000 barrel a day expansion. That expansion had to be closed down again, and that certainly resulted in some upward pressure at the pump.”

The Motiva refinery — located 90 miles east of Houston in Port Arthur — was forced to shut down in June due to severe chemical corrosion, just weeks after the completion of a five year expansion project.

I have a second cousin working at that refinery as a contractor, and they have had him onsite seven days a week for twelve hours a day for the past few months. Motiva -- a joint venture with Shell and Saudi Aramco -- has been furiously trying to get online for six months now. Just this past weekend they tried and failed once more. This refinery -- along with at least two others in Port Arthur -- is scheduled to receive and process some of what gets delivered via Keystone XL.

Since the tars sands oil's refined petroleum products will mostly be sold on the global market, it's no wonder we won't see any gas price relief locally. But we will get to breathe all of that pollution.

What a bargain!

-- Here's your guide to the Houston Marathon this weekend. The sponsors are Chevron and Aramco. Don't breathe too deeply, runners. Update: it is possible that the weather might cancel the event for the first time in its history.

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