Harvey halts a quarter of Gulf oil and gas production - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Harvey halts a quarter of Gulf oil and gas production

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Photo Courtesy MGN Online Photo Courtesy MGN Online

Oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico continued evacuating platforms and rigs on Friday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement reported.

Personnel were evacuated from four of the Gulf's 11 rigs, and a fifth retained its personnel but moved out of the storm's path. Of the Gulf's 737 manned platforms, 86 were evacuated of personnel, a number accounting for about 12 percent of Gulf platforms producing oil and natural gas.

"After the storm has passed, facilities will be inspected," BSEE stated in a Friday afternoon update. "Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back on line immediately. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back on line."

BSEE estimates the storm is halting about 22 percent of current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, which produces about 1.75 million barrels of oil each day. The interruption accounts for about 377,000 barrels of oil each day the shut-in continues.

Likewise, about 23 percent of daily natural-gas production — about 748 million cubic feet per day — has been interrupted.

KATC update, Aug. 26: By Saturday afternoon, 112 platforms and five rigs had been evacuated, and a sixth rig had relocated. About 25 percent of expected daily oil production – or about 429,000 barrels per day — had been shut in, along with about 26 percent of natural gas production equaling about 835 million cubic feet per day, according to BSEE.

BSEE says it's compiled the information based on offshore operators' daily reports based on their expected daily production, which BSEE compares to historical production reports.

According to BSEE:

As part of the evacuation process, personnel activate the applicable shut-in procedure, which can frequently be accomplished from a remote location. This involves closing the sub-surface safety valves located below the surface of the ocean floor to prevent the release of oil or gas. During previous hurricane seasons, the shut-in valves functioned 100 percent of the time, efficiently shutting in production from wells on the Outer Continental Shelf and protecting the marine and coastal environments. Shutting-in oil and gas production is a standard procedure conducted by industry for safety and environmental reasons.

BSEE says that as the storm's effects continue, the agency will update evacuation and shut-in statistics each day at 1 p.m. CST.

Flooding and high winds are threatening the Gulf's dense energy infrastructure.

More than 45 percent of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity is located along the Gulf coast, as well as 51 percent of total U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

About a third of the nation's refining capacity and a quarter of its natural gas production is located along the Texas Gulf Coast, which began suffering the effects of the Category 3 storm on Friday, is home to almost one-third of U.S. refining capacity and about a quarter of U.S. natural gas production.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 and Isaac in 2012 each most recently impacted oil and gas infrastructure in the region, temporarily shutting down pipeline and refining capacity, the EIA noted in a Friday press release.

The storms also shut in more than a million barrels a day of crude oil production and more than three billion cubic feet per day of natural gas production.

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