Massive flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey along Texas' refinery-rich coast could have long-standing and far-reaching consequences for the state's oil and natural gas industry and the larger U.S. economy.
The storm's remnants left much of Houston underwater on Sunday, and the National Weather Service says it's not over yet: Some parts of Houston and its suburbs could end up with as much as 50 inches of rain.
With the heavy precipitation expected to last for days, it's still unclear how bad the damage will be, but there is already evidence of widespread losses. Key oil and natural gas facilities along the Texas Gulf Coast have temporarily shut down, and flooding in the Houston and Beaumont areas could seriously pinch gasoline supplies. Companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated drilling platforms and rigs, crimping the flow of oil and gas.
Experts believe gasoline prices could increase as much as 25 cents a gallon.
Economy watchers were looking to oil futures markets Sunday night and stock trading in the U.S. Monday morning for further indications of fallout.
Companies have evacuated workers from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Sunday that workers had been removed from 105 of the 737 manned platforms used to pump oil and gas from beneath the Gulf.
The agency estimated that platforms accounting for about 22 percent of oil production and 26 percent of natural gas output in the Gulf had been shut down.
"After the storm has passed, facilities will be inspected," the agency said in a news release. "Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back on line immediately. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back on line."
Researchers at Texas A&M University estimated that the storm would knock out power for at least 1.25 million people in Texas. They said the hardest-hit areas will include Corpus Christi, which is on the coast, and San Antonio, which is about 140 miles inland.