Hurricanes force oil production adjustments in Gulf of Mexico
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Oil companies had hardly begun restoring production in the Gulf of Mexico following the rampage of hurricane Ida through the region at the end of August when they were again obliged to evacuate staff as a result of approaching tropical storm Nicholas.

Since Ida struck the state of Louisiana in late August, more than a million residents have remained without power. In New York, 20 cm of precipitation fell in the course of a few hours. In Louisiana, Ida was designated a category four storm, with winds reaching 240 kph.

     About 94 % of oil company operations were stopped and workers were evacuated from more than half of the production platforms. A total of 560 platforms operate in the Gulf.

     By mid-September, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), had resumed operations for loading imports and exports. The terminal is the biggest private deep-water oil port in the States, linked by pipeline to half of the country’s refineries. Enbridge pipelines were among those that resumed operations.

   As of now, oil production has been restored only to 52 % of capacity in the Gulf of Mexico and gas production to 46 %. According to data from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), staff have not yet returned to 63 production platforms evacuated during Ida.

    Tropical Storm Nicholas could develop hurricane strength before landfall and trigger heavy rains in Houston and in various regions of Louisiana. Shell, the largest production company in the Gulf of Mexico, has already begun evacuating its staff from offshore platforms.

    The conditions have sent oil prices upwards. November futures for Brent on ICE Futures Europe in     London are approaching $74 a barrel.   

    “The threat of more disruptions from extreme weather is also a cause of concern for producers and a reason for traders to add price premiums,” said Nishant Bhushan, Rystad Energy’s Oil Markets Analyst.

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