Gulf of Mexico operators evacuate offshore staff ahead of severe weather
Oil and gas operators in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico are securing their offshore facilities and evacuating non-essential personnel due to Tropical Depression 16.
BP said in an update on Wednesday it was closely monitoring Tropical Depression 16 to ensure the safety of its personnel and operations in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
“With forecasts indicating the system likely to strengthen as it moves to the north, we are now taking additional steps to respond,” the the oil major said.
BP has begun securing offshore facilities and 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.
Located 150 miles southeast of New Orleans and in 6,050 feet of water, the Thunder Horse platform was designed to process up to 250,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. This is the third time in less than a month for this offshore platform to be evacuated. Namely, the Thunder Horse platform was also evacuated in early September due to Hurricane Irma and then later that month after a power outage.
Before Irma, a number of oil and gas operators were forced to secure their facilities and evacuate offshore staff in August due to Hurricane Harvey.
Servicing multiple fields, the Na Kika platform is located 140 miles southeast of New Orleans in 6,340 feet of water. It was designed to process up to 130,000 barrels of oil and 550 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
“Safety is our top priority and we will continue to monitor weather conditions closely to determine next steps,” BP concluded.
No impact on Shell’s production
Shell also said on Wednesday it was monitoring Tropical Depression 16. “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 safely secure our facilities in preparation for potentially severe weather. There are currently no impacts to our production or drilling operations,” Shell added.
“Shell works closely a leading weather forecasting organization to model where a storm system is most likely heading and how strong it will be so we can take necessary and effective steps to keep our people, the environment and our assets safe,” said Phil Smith, Shell’s Manager for Emergency Management in the Americas.
According to information at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Thursday, Tropical Depression #16 is forecast to become a tropical storm later on Thursday.
In its 48-hour outlook on Thursday, the NHC said: “At 200 AM EDT (0600 UTC), the center of Tropical Depression Sixteen was located near latitude 13.0 North, longitude 83.0 West. The depression is moving toward the northwest near 6 mph (9 km/h), and this motion is expected to continue this morning. A north- northwestward motion at a faster forward speed is forecast to begin later today and continue through late Friday.”
“On the forecast track, the center of the depression should move across northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras later today and then over the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday night and Friday. The center is expected to approach the coast of the Yucatan peninsula late Friday. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts. The depression is forecast to strengthen to a tropical storm before it moves inland over northeastern Nicaragua. Additional strengthening is likely over the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday night and Friday.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff