Satellite image of Hurricane Delta; Source: NOAA

Offshore workers scatter as Hurricane Delta approaches

Oil and gas companies with assets across the Gulf of Mexico have begun to evacuate workers from offshore platforms and rigs in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Delta – the sixth hurricane this year to disrupt output in the Gulf.

Satellite image of Hurricane Delta; Source: NOAA

Hurricane Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season and is sustaining wings of 225 kilometres per hour. It is already a dangerous Category 4 storm which will move from the Caribbean, scrape across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, and re-enter the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Delta

Shell said on Tuesday it was in the process of shutting in production at all nine of its assets and evacuating all personnel on board as well as finalising the safe pause on its drilling operations.

BP stated that forecasts indicated that the storm would move across central and northeast Gulf of Mexico in the next few days. As a result, BP began evacuating personnel from its platforms and assets and started shutting in production.

The four offshore drilling rigs contracted to BP are also in the process of securing their wells to safely evade the storms. BP added that it was securing and preparing to close its Houma Operations Learning Center in Louisiana.

Chevron, Equinor, and BHP were all shutting in production on platforms and evacuating workers to facilities onshore.

W&T Offshore is another that started evacuations with preparations for shut-ins on its Gulf of Mexico assets.

On Monday, the company made an operational update in which it stated that Tropical Storm Cristobal impacted W&T’s second-quarter 2020 production while Hurricanes Hanna, Marco, LauraSally and Beta caused production shut-ins during the third quarter of 2020.

Since tropical storm activity in the Gulf of Mexico is continuing in early October and due to the hurricane season extending until November 30, W&T said that there remains the potential for additional tropical weather impact to production and costs in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is also monitoring Hurricane Delta, and according to operator reports, it forced the closure of 29.22 per cent of offshore crude oil production in the U.S.-regulated northern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, while it shut-in 8.59 per cent of the natural gas production.

U.S. shale oil output has been able to mitigate the market impact of hurricane shut-ins but it is worth noting that there have been six storms starting with Tropical Storm Cristobal in June that have affected U.S. offshore oil and gas operations this year.