Storm Debby shifts east, may miss US Gulf oil patch
HOUSTON, June 25 — US companies shut in roughly 23 per cent of the nation's oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico on Su nday as a precaution due to Tropical Storm Debby, even as forecasters revamped projections to show the storm could head north and miss the vital offshore energy facilities.
The US National Hurricane Center reported late yesterday afternoon that the storm's expected path toward Florida, away from the US Gulf waters that are home to about 20 per cent of US oil and 6 per cent of natural gas output.
The latest forecast showed Debby failing to gain hurricane strength moving due north to landfall on Thursday at Port St Joe, Florida. Debby is the first storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season forecast to threaten the Gulf.
The latest forecast by the NHC, with successive projections between Friday and Sunday, pointed the storm from due west of its formation near the tip of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula to western Florida.
Late yesterday, Weather Insight, a Thomson Reuters company, said Debby had only a 10 per cent chance of striking Gulf production areas, down by 20 per cent from earlier in the day.
As of midday yesterday, 22.7 per cent of daily crude oil production, up from 7.8 per cent on Saturday, and 22.9 per cent of daily natural gas output, up from 8.16 per cent, had been shut due to Debby, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which oversees oil and gas activity in the Gulf.
BSEE also said 313,775 barrels per day (bpd) in crude oil production had been shut in as of yesterday. Some 1.03 billion cubic feet per day in natural gas output had been shut energy companies evacuated offshore production platforms.
BP Plc, the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, had shut in all of its production by yesterday, the company said.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only US port that can receive the largest oil tank ships, stopped operating due to rough seas.
Exxon Mobil Corp, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell Plc had also shut some of their production as of yesterday. — Reuters