Oil and gas operators have evacuated 12 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, shutting in 11% of the area’s crude oil production as the storm Ian barreling toward Florida strengthened to an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane.
Late on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said that “Air Force Hurricane Hunters Find Ian Has Strengthened Into An Extremely Dangerous Category 4 Hurricane. Expected to Cause Life-Threatening Storm Surge, Catastrophic Winds and Flooding in the Florida Peninsula.”
The latest data as of 6:35 a.m. ET on Wednesday indicated that Ian was rapidly intensifying, and maximum sustained winds are now up to 155 mph, the National Hurricane Center said early on Wednesday.
As the hurricane strengthened on Tuesday, operators in the eastern Gulf of Mexico evacuated platforms and shut in production.
According to operator reports, around 11 percent – or 190,358 barrels per day (bpd) – of the current oil production, and 8.56 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut in as of late Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said.
Earlier this week, in anticipation of Hurricane Ian, supermajors Chevron and BP evacuated personnel and shut in production at some of their platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, in the first shut-in of U.S. offshore oil and gas output this hurricane season.
The Gulf of Mexico accounts for around 15% of all U.S. crude oil production.
Chevron has shut in its Petronius and Blind Faith platforms, while BP shut in production and evacuated all personnel from its 130,000-bpd Na Kika platform. The oil and gas major was also shutting in production and evacuating all essential personnel from the Thunder Horse platform, which has the capacity to pump 250,000 bpd of oil.
Late on Tuesday, BP said that “With forecasts indicating the storm will track toward the Florida peninsula, bp has determined Hurricane Ian no longer poses a significant threat to our Gulf of Mexico assets.”
The supermajor is now working to redeploy offshore personnel to the Na Kika and Thunder Horse platforms after determining conditions are safe to return, BP said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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