BHP's Shenzi platform; Source: Halliburton

Workers returning to Gulf of Mexico platforms following Hurricane Delta

Oil and gas operators are returning its workers to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Delta, which made landfall on Friday.

BHP's Shenzi platform; Source: Halliburton

The BSEE said in its latest report that personnel were evacuated from 198 of the 643 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Satellite image of Hurricane Delta; Source: NOAA
Satellite image of Hurricane Delta; Source: NOAA

Personnel have been evacuated from four non-dynamically positioned rigs, equivalent to 40 per cent of the 10 rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf. Only one dynamically positioned rig has moved off location out of the hurricane’s projected path as a precaution. This number represents 5.88 per cent of the 17 dynamically positioned rigs.

Even though operators began returning workers to platforms, the BSEE estimates that 91.01 of oil production and 91.01 per cent of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is still shut-in.

At its peak, Hurricane Delta shut in 1.67 million barrels per day, or 92 per cent of the Gulf’s oil output which is the most since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 100 offshore platforms and hobbled output for months.

Hurricane Delta cone projection; Source: NOAA BSEE
Hurricane Delta cone projection; Source: NOAA

Cumulative volumes shut-in by Hurricane Delta through Sunday amounted to 8.79 million barrels of oil and 8.30 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Hurricane Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season. While at sea, it was categorised as Category 4 storm which arrived from the Caribbean, went across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, and enter the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. NOAA characterised it as a “life-threatening storm surge”.

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

According to Reuters, Chevron, Shell, and BHP started returning workers to production platforms in the Gulf.

BHP spokeswoman Judy Dane told the media company that the company expected to complete the return of workers to its Shenzi and Neptune production platforms on Sunday, but resuming flows would depend on how quickly pipelines return to service.