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The biggest oil producers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico started evacuating offshore platform workers on Thursday and some shut in oil and gas production ahead of tropical storm Ida which is expected to become a hurricane in the Gulf in the coming days.
Chevron, Shell, BP, BHP, and Equinor have removed workers from offshore platforms in the Gulf, spokespeople for the companies told Reuters. BP, Shell, and BHP have also started to shut in production at platforms. Equinor was getting ready to move workers away from the Titan platform, while Chevron and BHP have evacuated non-essential staff, company representatives told Reuters.
As of Thursday, Chevron hadn’t shut in production, which remained at normal levels.
Refineries on the Gulf Coast were also preparing for severe weather but operations were normal as of Thursday.
The center of tropical storm Ida is forecast to pass over the southeastern and central Gulf of Mexico on Friday night and Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory late on Thursday. The system is forecast to approach the U.S. northern Gulf Coast on Sunday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts. Ida is forecast to become a hurricane over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico in a day or two with additional strengthening expected thereafter. Ida could be near major hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center added.
Ida is the ninth named storm in the hurricane season in the Atlantic this year. Gulf of Mexico producers had evacuated staff ahead of a storm in June, too. Occidental Petroleum and Chevron Corp were among companies evacuating staff from platforms.
Last year’s season had as many as 30 named storms, several of which battered the offshore oil and gas sector, at one point causing the shutdown of as much as 90 percent of production capacity as well as refining capacity on the Gulf Coast.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.