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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Hurricane Ida Continues To Weigh On Gulf Oil Production

More than a week after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, nearly 90 percent, or some 1,6 million bpd of U.S. Gulf oil production remains shut-in, more than 80 percent of natural gas production is offline, and less than half of the shut refineries have started to restart some processes. 

Operators in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico have identified damages to offshore facilities and looked to identify the source of an oil spill south off the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, where Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday, August 29.  

A week later, as of Sunday, September 5, as many as 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil production was shut-in, equal to 88.32 percent of total crude output in the region, data from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) showed. A total of 82.72 percent of the daily natural gas production in the Gulf was also shut-in as of Sunday evening. 

The shut-in oil production was lower than on Thursday, when 1.7 million bpd, or 93.55 percent, of all daily crude output was offline. 

Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 CDT on Sunday, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 104 production platforms, or 18.57 percent of the 560 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Gulf of Mexico operators are assessing the situation on offshore facilities, while Port Fourchon remained in Recovery Phase on Saturday, with work progressing to get the port back up and running. 

Operations were restricted for daylight only to ensure the safety of first responders. The port typically handles significant industry traffic from offshore Gulf oil platforms and drilling rigs as well as the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port pipeline. 

Shell said last week that it had identified damage to its West Delta-143 offshore facilities, which serve as the transfer station for all production from the oil giant’s assets in the Mars corridor in the Mississippi Canyon area to onshore crude terminals. 

In the aftermath of Ida, divers hired by Talos Energy found on Sunday the possible source of an oil spill two miles offshore Port Fourchon in an unleased oilfield, Bay Marchand. A foot-long pipeline was bent and open, but none of the damaged pipelines are owned by Talos, the company said in a statement carried by Houston Chronicle. The spill hasn’t had an impact on wildlife or the shoreline, according to Talos. 

Apart from offshore oil and gas production, Hurricane Ida disrupted refinery operations in Louisiana, shutting 13 percent of American oil refining capacity right after the storm made landfall. 

A week later, five out of nine refineries that had shut in ahead of or during the storm remain shut, the U.S. Department of Energy said in its update on Hurricane Ida on Sunday. 

Five refineries in Louisiana remain shut, accounting for about 1.0 million bpd of refinery capacity, or around 6 percent, of U.S. operable refining capacity.

All three refineries in the Baton Rouge area and one near New Orleans—with a combined 1.3 million bpd refinery capacity—have initiated the restart process, but they are not expected to produce fuel at full rates for several days. 

Operations at the shut refineries cannot restart until feedstock supply, power, and other essential third-party utilities are restored, the DOE said. 

Operations also remain suspended at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), and repairs are underway. LOOP—the only U.S. port capable of receiving very large crude carriers (VLCCs)—suspended operations at its marine terminal a day before Ida’s landfall per standard procedure.  

“Facility assessments and repairs continue,” LOOP said in its latest update Sunday, adding that it “continues to work with shippers to minimize storm-related impacts and is coordinating receipts and deliveries to regional refineries.” 

Gasoline prices in Louisiana spiked by $0.40 a gallon between the day of Ida’s landfall last Sunday, August 29, and this Sunday, September 5, according to AAA data. Gas prices in some counties are above $3 a gallon, while the state’s average price was $2.874/gal on September 5. 

As of early Sunday, 64.4 percent of Baton Rouge gas stations were without fuel, 64.3 percent of those in New Orleans, and 58.4 percent in Lafayette, Patrick De Haan, petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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