4th UPDATE: Oil and Gas Producers Redeploy U.S. Gulf Staff as Debby Declines
06/25/2012| 02:43pm US/Eastern
-- BP, Shell, Anadarko, Exxon Mobil begin to redeploy personnel offshore
-- Storm weakening slightly, heading toward Florida coast
-- NHC says storm is about 50 miles south of Apalachicola, Fla.
-- U.S. government says 44.1% of oil, 34.8% of natural gas production disrupted in U.S. Gulf
(Updates with shut-in figures in third paragraph and Chevron comment.)
By Angel Gonzalez
HOUSTON--Oil and gas producers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico moved to restaff their offshore operations and restart disrupted output Monday, as weakening Tropical Storm Debby turned toward the western Florida coast.
The National Hurricane Center said that Debby, the fourth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, was a "little weaker" as it moved slowly toward the Florida Coast.
Still, as of 12:30 p.m. EDT Monday, energy companies had shut in 608,025 barrels a day of crude, or 44.1% of the area's total oil production, and 1.565 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas, or 34.8% of the Gulf's output, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. About 31.7% of the Gulf's offshore platforms were evacuated, the agency said.
The figures reported Monday constitute a significant increase from the 23% of both oil and gas production shut in disclosed Sunday. Gulf of Mexico federal offshore production accounts for 29% of oil and 12% of gas production in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
BP PLC (BP, BP.LN), the largest oil and gas producer in the Gulf, said that, because the latest forecast showed a steady decline in strength, "we will begin today redeploying personnel to certain BP-operated offshore facilities."
The restaffing process will begin with the western-most facilities operated by BP and "continue in the coming days," the company said on its hurricane hot line. The U.K. oil giant, which in 2010 produced 410,000 barrels of oil equivalent of oil and gas in the area, had said earlier that its entire production in the Gulf would be shut in by mid-Sunday.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA, RDSA.LN) said Monday it had begun redeploying staff to its operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Debby appears to head away from offshore oil-production facilities and toward Florida.
"Shell is in the initial stages of redeploying staff to its operations across the Gulf," Shell said.
Only two nonproducing platforms were evacuated fully, the company said in a posting on its website. Restart has begun of a "minimal" amount of oil and gas production that was shut in and all operations will be "back to normal" by the end of Tuesday, the company said.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (>> Anadarko Petroleum Corporation) said it believes conditions allow for a safe return of essential workers to its Marco Polo and Constitution platforms in the central part of the Gulf, "with plans to restart production at these facilities following comprehensive inspections."
The company said it expects to restaff the Independence Hub and Neptune platforms with essential personnel Monday afternoon.
Chevron Corp. (>> Chevron Corporation), also a major Gulf producer, said that some of its production had been affected by the storm, and that non-essential personnel had been evacuated from some facilities. "Chevron continues to monitor closely" the projected path of the storm, the company said.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) said its Gulf of Mexico offshore operations and coastal facilities "are resuming normal operations."
"Operations crews are returning to facilities that were evacuated in advance of the storm," an Exxon spokesman said in an email. On Sunday, Exxon said it had shut in less than 1,000 barrels of oil a day and seven million cubic feet of natural gas a day.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port said it's in the process of restarting its marine operations, with tanker offloadings resuming Monday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm is about 50 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla., with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles an hour.
Write to Angel Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corrections & Amplifications
This item was corrected at 16:16 ET to show the time that the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement reported figures was 12:30 p.m. EDT. The original incorrectly stated 12:30 a.m.