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Oil producers in the U.S. part of the Gulf of Mexico have begun evacuating employees from their platforms ahead of a possible storm that is for now a tropical depression, Reuters reports, adding the storm could develop by this evening or tomorrow.
Among the companies that have started moving staff from the Gulf are Shell, Chevron, BP, and BHP, while Exxon is keeping an eye on the weather developments for the time being to establish which of its platforms could find themselves in the way of the storm.
Chevron is evacuating all the staff from five platforms and shutting them down ahead of the storm, and also evacuating some non-essential personnel from a sixth platform. Shell is evacuating four platforms--Appomattox, Mars, Olympus and Ursa—and has reduced production from the Mars and Olympus platforms by more than 2,500 bpd. BP is evacuating staff from four platforms that collectively produce over 300,000 bpd of oil and gas. BHP, for its part, is reducing production at two platforms, with the evacuation of staff from Neptune and Shenzi expected to wrap up by this afternoon.
Earlier this week, the Colorado State University updated its forecast for this hurricane season and now expect 14 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. While the update is unchanged from last month’s forecast, it does feature more than the average number of named storms per hurricane season, which is twelve. Six hurricanes is the average number per season, and of these, an average of three become major hurricanes of Category 3 or more.
The outlook of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts 9 to 15 named storms this hurricane season, 4 to 8 hurricanes, and 2 to 4 major hurricanes.
The Gulf of Mexico accounts for some 17 percent of U.S. oil production. Last year, hurricane Michael shut in production of more than 700,000 bpd for a few days. The year before, however, hurricane season was a lot more devastating: total losses for the oil industry—production and refining—hit US$200 billion, which became the highest storm bill in history.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.