Energy companies are removing workers for more than 100 oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura churn toward the Louisiana coast
Oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico was slowed Sunday by the approach of two storms that led companies to remove workers from more than 100 offshore platforms.
The Interior Department said that based on company reports at midday, 114 platforms had been evacuated. That is 18% of the staffed platforms in the Gulf, but those platforms account for 58% of Gulf oil production and 45% of its natural gas output.
A spokesman for Norway’s Equinor said workers were taken off the company’s Titan platform, and production was stopped.
Energy companies also moved drilling rigs to avoid the storms. Eight of the 16 movable rigs in the Gulf were moved, and workers were evacuated from five of the 10 rigs that cannot move, according to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Hurricane Marco is closer to the Gulf coast, but forecasters are more concerned about Tropical Storm Laura, which is expected to reach hurricane status before slamming the coast around midweek.
Operators in the Gulf often evacuate workers when the forecast calls for hurricanes or tropical storms. If the platforms aren’t damaged, the impact on oil and gas production is usually short-lived.
The Gulf accounts for a little less than one-fifth of U.S. oil production.
It has been a volatile year for the oil industry. Crude prices plunged from January into April before rebounding after OPEC and its allies agreed to curb production.
Prices have stalled lately because of ample supplies and continuing weak demand during a pandemic. West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark U.S. crude, settled at $42.34 per barrel on Friday.