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Oil, gas output restarts begin at US Gulf of Mexico platforms after hurricane

Three days after Hurricane Delta raged through the US Gulf of Mexico, nearly 70% of the region’s crude production still remains offline, a federal agency said Oct. 12, although producers increased the number of crews on platforms and restored more volumes of downed oil and gas output in the previous 24 hours.

The 70% represented a big drop from the 91% shut-in output Oct. 11, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in its daily storm bulletin.

On Oct. 12, a total 1.28 million b/d of oil, or 69% of the region’s total, was still shut in, as well as 1.28 Bcf/d of natural gas, or 47% of the Gulf’s total, the BSEE said.

Also, 124 platforms remained shut in Oct. 12, or 19% of the region’s total, compared to 198 or nearly 31% a day earlier, meaning crews had returned to 74 more platforms in the past 24 hours.

So far, upstream exploration and production operators have reported little serious damage from Delta, which made landfall Oct. 9 as a strong Category 2 hurricane with maximum winds of 100 mph.

Major Gulf deepwater players Shell, BP and Chevron had shut in all of their operated oil and gas platforms ahead of Delta but crews are now mostly back on platforms and output is being restored.

Late Oct. 11, Chevron said it was restoring production at its operated US Gulf platforms.

Also, “[our] Fourchon and Empire terminals and related pipeline systems are back to operational status,” Chevron said.

No significant damage at Pascagoula: Chevron

In addition, “we have completed our assessment of the Pascagoula Refinery, which did not sustain any significant damage as a result of Hurricane Delta,” the company added. “Our Pasadena Refinery is operating normally.”

Shell said Oct. 12 it has started ramping up production at its Appomattox and Olympus platforms.

“Other assets are in various stages of preparation for production ramp-up,” the major said. “Auger, Enchilada and Salsa were in turnarounds prior to the recent hurricane and remain in turnaround mode.”

Shell had said late Oct. 10 that it was redeploying crews to its nine assets shut in prior to the storm, and added all of its mobile drilling units were returning to drill sites to restart operations.

BP has not updated its storm page, and the company could not be reached for an update.

The offshore Gulf of Mexico is home to roughly 1.9 million b/d of crude production capacity, according to the US Energy Information Administration. S&P Global Platts Analytics projects it could take nearly two weeks to fully restore production.

BHP spokeswoman Judy Dane said Oct. 12 that remobilization at its Neptune and Shenzi platforms is now complete. “Production has not yet restarted but we could resume as early as Wednesday,” she said.

Norway’s Equinor, which had shut in its operated Titan platform, said it was just about back to normal.

Equinor, Murphy bring back production

“The Titan platform has been remanned and production startup is expected today,” Oct. 12, company spokesman Erik Haaland said.

Murphy Oil, which had evacuated crews and shut in production in advance of the storm, was now bringing both back late Oct. 11

“At this time, our focus has turned all efforts to safely re-man and restart production in the Gulf of Mexico,” Murphy spokeswoman Kelly Whitley said.

Occidental Petroleum, which resumed operations in the US Gulf in its acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum 14 months ago, said Oct. 12, “There are no active storms affecting our operations and we continue to monitor the weather conditions across the Gulf of Mexico.”

Also, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) said Oct. 12 it had resumed operations at the Marine Terminal.

Moreover, “there are no interruptions in deliveries at the Clovelly Hub,” LOOP said in its final Delta bulletin.

Crude exports from Louisiana had felt the impact of the storm as LOOP had suspended operations at its marine terminal Oct. 7 in advance of the storm.

And in Texas, the Houston Ship Channel suspended operations late on Oct. 8 but reopened Oct. 10.

Delta hit Louisiana in the same region as the more dangerous Hurricane Laura did in late August, but Delta forged a more treacherous path offshore through the heart of deepwater oil and gas activities.

A bevy of tropical storms and hurricanes have disrupted oil and gas operations in the Gulf this year for what could end up as the most active Atlantic storm season in recorded history, potentially surpassing the record-setting season in 2005. Hurricane season extends through the end of November.

Meanwhile, a tropical wave is stirring in the Atlantic, 750 miles east of the Windward Islands. Strong upper-level winds are expected to inhibit development of the storm by midweek, and its chances for cyclone development in the next five days is 30%, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The US Oil Policy Podcast: Weekly analysis of US oil policy news from our senior editors covering the Capitol.
Source: Platts

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