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Gasoline rises as U.S. oil producers shut wells ahead of Cristobal

Energy companies on Friday evacuated 10% of production platforms and shut nearly 30% of offshore oil output, pushing gasoline prices higher, as Tropical Storm Cristobal entered the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Cristobal on Friday was located 535 miles (860 km) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving north at 13 miles per hour (21 km per hour), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Equinor ASA, BP PLC and Occidental Petroleum Corp halted production and evacuated offshore staff, while Murphy Oil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC evacuated some platforms, the companies said.

Operators evacuated 65 offshore facilities on Friday and moved seven drill rigs out of the storm’s path, according to offshore regulator Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Well shut-ins took out 544,814 barrels per day of oil and 601 million cubic feet of natural gas production, BSEE said.

Spot Gulf Coast gasoline prices rose a half a penny on Friday as buyers acquired contracts in case the storm disrupts the market, traders said.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center issued tropical storm and storm surge warnings for areas from Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Winds were 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour) and expected to reach 60 miles per hour (96 km per hour) before landfall, according to NHC forecaster Richard Pasch.

Cristobal is forecast to strike central Louisiana on Sunday after passing through U.S. offshore oil production areas. U.S. Gulf of Mexico waters account for about 15% of total U.S. crude production.

CBOB gasoline rose a half penny to trade at 11.50 cents per gallon below futures, traders said.

Equinor was evacuating workers from its Titan platform on Friday, a spokesman said. Earlier, BP reducing production at its Thunder Horse, Atlantis and Na Kika platforms and withdrew non-essential workers from its Mad Dog platform.

Murphy Oil said it was evacuating all workers from the Gulf of Mexico, but declined to say if its production was affected.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Erwin Seba, Jennifer Hiller in Houston, and Stephanie Kelly in New York; writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell, Marguerita Choy and Will Dunham)

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