Gulf of Mexico Platforms Shut In Ahead of Storm
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced Monday that a number of offshore operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and relocating DP rigs in order to lower risk from Tropical Depression #9.
The National Hurricane Center expects that the system will develop tropical storm-force winds on Tuesday (wind speeds between about 35-65 knots). As of Monday evening, the storm was northwest of Cuba, and it is expected to curve to the northeast, making landfall north of Tampa, Florida.
Personnel have been evacuated from six production platforms (out of the 780 manned production facilities in the Gulf) and from one non-DP rig (out of 16 currently in operation). In addition, the operators of five DP rigs have moved their assets out of the predicted path of the storm. There are presently about 25 DP rigs operating in the Gulf.
The evacuated facilities have been shut in, and the BSEE estimates that a total of about 170,000 bpd – 10 percent of the Gulf's oil production – is offline due to the storm. An additional 190 mmcfd of gas, about five percent of the Gulf's output, is also shut in.
In a statement Monday, oil major BP said that it has shut in four platforms and is in the process of doing the same with three more.
"With forecasts indicating the system will be entering the eastern Gulf of Mexico, BP has evacuated all non-essential personnel from its four operated platforms in the Gulf and has begun shutting-in production at the Thunder Horse, Na Kika and Atlantis platforms," the firm said. "BP’s other offshore production platform in the Deepwater Gulf, Mad Dog, is farther to the west and continues to operate."
Shell said in a statement that it had suspended drilling operations but its Gulf production facilities are not affected by the storm.
The majority of meteorological organizations have predicted a normal-to-above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year. NOAA predicts 12-17 named storms and 5-8 hurricanes, trending above the average year numbers of 12 and six respectively.