Gulf of Mexico operators curb output ahead of Storm Nate

Offshore oil and gas operators in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs and shutting-in production in preparation for Tropical Storm Nate. 

According to a Thursday report by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 CDT on Thursday, personnel had been evacuated from a total of 6 production platforms, 0.81 percent of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

No non-dynamically positioned rigs have been evacuated but one DP rig has moved off location out of the storm’s path as a precaution. This number represents 5.56 percent of the 18 DP rigs currently operating in the Gulf.

From operator reports, it is estimated that approximately 14.55 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in, which equates to 254,607 barrels of oil per day. It is also estimated that approximately 6.42 percent of the natural gas production, or 206.71 million cubic feet per day in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.

In its storm update on Thursday, Shell said it was monitoring Tropical Storm Nate.

“As a precautionary measure, we are minimizing the number of people working offshore at our assets in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and are taking steps to secure our facilities in preparation for potentially severe weather. This includes safely shutting in production from some of our subsea fields and suspending some drilling activity,” the company said.

“We regularly train our employees to ensure they are ready to take immediate action when the time comes – no matter the situation,” said Phil Smith, Shell’s Manager for Emergency Management in the Americas.

BP also said it was closely monitoring Tropical Storm Nate. “With forecasts indicating that Tropical Storm Nate will strengthen as it moves into the central Gulf of Mexico, BP has begun removing all remaining offshore personnel and shutting-in production at BP’s four operated platforms. Once this process is complete, BP will continue to monitor offshore conditions to determine when conditions are safe to redeploy personnel and resume operations,” said BP.

BP’s four Gulf of Mexico production platforms are Atlantis, Na Kika, Thunder Horse and Mad Dog. Offshore Energy Today reported earlier in the week that BP had started evacuating non-essential personnel from the Thunder Horse and Na Kika platforms and the Seadrill-owned West Vela drilling rig in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

Offshore gathering hub, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), has not interrupted deliveries at the Clovelly Hub but vessel offloading operations will be suspended until marine conditions are favorable. “All other LOOP facilities are currently reporting normal operations,” the port said on Thursday.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Statoil and ExxonMobil had also withdrawn their personnel from the platforms. Marathon Oil Corp. and ConocoPhillips have not taken any action yet but are monitoring the storm’s path, the news agency further said.

According to Reuters, Tropical Storm Nate killed at least 22 people in Central America on Thursday.

Nate to become hurricane by the time it reaches central GoM 


According to Friday information at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), on the forecast track, the center of Nate will move over the Gulf of Honduras and across the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday, and reach the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula Friday evening. Nate will then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico Friday night and approach the northern Gulf coast Saturday evening.

The maximum sustained winds have increased to near 45 mph (75 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and Nate is expected to become a hurricane by the time it reaches the central Gulf of Mexico.

Offshore Energy Today Staff