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Chevron, Shell, and Exxon have begun evacuating staff working on offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a subtropical storm Alberto. Production has not yet been affected, the companies said.
Platts quoted Chevron as saying it had started shutting down operations at two platforms, Blind Faith and Petronius, off the Louisiana coast, and Shell said it had shut down the Ram Powell platform and had pulled out staff from the Appomattox deepwater platform, which is under construction. Exxon has also shut down two platforms: one offshore Louisiana, and another offshore Alabama.
Overall crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico stood at 1.7 million barrels daily in the first quarter of the year and should rise to 1.78 million bpd by the end of June, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration. The EIA forecast last month that this year GOM production will average 1.7 million bpd, rising to 1.8 million bpd in 2019.
Alberto is expected to cross the eastern and northern parts of the GOM this Sunday and make landfall on the next day in the Florida panhandle. The outlook for the hurricane season is not good: Platts quotes the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center as expecting the season to be tougher than the average, with a 75-percent likelihood of that. The chances for a normal season are about 40 percent.
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As for the number of storms, the Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70-percent chance for between 10 and 16 named storms, with anywhere from 5 to 9 of those turning into hurricanes. Of these, one to four could become major hurricanes, with wind speeds of 111 mph or more.
Last year, hurricane season was also a bad one, with Harvey and Nate wreaking havoc on oil production in the Gulf. Nate, in particular, shut down almost 100 percent of production and a lot of refining capacity, lifting crude and fuel prices.
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.