Photo: Illustration; Source: NOAA

Gulf of Mexico operators evacuating workers due to storm Marco. Awaiting storm Laura

Oil and gas operators in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico have evacuated over 40 per cent of production platforms as a result of Tropical Storm Marco and ahead of the arrival of a second storm – Tropical Storm Laura.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said in an announcement on Monday that the Hurricane Response Team was still monitoring the Gulf and the two storms along with other state and federal agencies.

Based on data from offshore operator reports personnel have been evacuated from a total of 281 production platforms, 43.7 per cent of the 643 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The BSEE added that personnel have also been evacuated from six non-dynamically positioned rigs, equivalent to 60 per cent of the 10 rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf.

A total of 11 dynamically positioned rigs have moved off location out of the storms’ projected paths as a precaution. This number represents 68 per cent of the 16 such rigs currently operating in the Gulf.

Tropical Storm Marco; Source: NOAA
Tropical Storm Marco; Source: NOAA

As part of the evacuation process, personnel activated 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, effectively shutting in production from wells and protecting the marine and coastal environments.

BSEE estimates that approximately 82.4 per cent of the current oil production and 56.92 per cent of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.

Tropical Storm Laura; Source: NOAA
Tropical Storm Laura; Source: NOAA

The BSEE added that, after the storms have passed, facilities will be inspected. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back online immediately. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back online.

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