Propane tanks are lined up while people wait for the power to turn on to fill their tanks on February 17, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Mark Felix | The Washington Post | Getty Images
In Louisiana and Mississippi, blackouts intensified when conditions of a historic winter storm slowed supply to the area as demand increased.
The problems in Texas also spread, and the water supply was now at risk after thousands of pipes burst. Officials are asking Texans to boil tap water to drink.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an ordinance Wednesday night instructing natural gas utilities to stop all deliveries outside of the state.
According to data from PowerOutage.us, more than 560,000 customers in Texas were without power on Thursday. While the new numbers represent progress – at one point Tuesday, more than 4 million customers were out of power – it has now been several days in cold conditions with no heat for some.
According to PowerOutage.us, more than 100,000 customers in Louisiana were without power, while in Mississippi nearly 200,000 customers were affected.
“We do our best to schedule events, but I think this goes beyond anything I think any sane person would have said at the same time,” said Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, on Thursday on CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange. “It’s something of the perfect storm.”
The wintry conditions affected electricity generation from natural gas, coal, renewables, and other sources, just as consumers turned up their thermostats in freezing temperatures. The network could not keep up with the dynamics of supply and demand and had to switch off electricity for millions of customers.
An estimated 3 million barrels of oil per day went offline. At least a fifth of US refinery production has ceased. Some are just too cold to operate while others cannot get delivery due to frozen pipelines or other issues.
Energy prices started in the green on Thursday but gave back some of their recent gains as the day wore on. Natural gas was down 4.8% but is still about 5% higher for the week. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose to a session high of $ 62.26 a barrel, their highest level in 13 months, before finally closing 1% lower at $ 60.52 a barrel. Gasoline futures hit $ 1.8486 on Thursday, their highest level since July 2019.
“Unprecedented price peaks for electricity and natural gas, at which other energy resources react, underscore the domino effects in all markets,” said Citi analysts.
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