Editor’s note: This article was updated at 1:20 p.m. Oct. 9.
Offshore oil and gas operators have begun returning employees to platforms as Nate, downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, moved farther into northeastern U.S. on Oct. 9. The storm forced the shut-in of more than 92% of the daily oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM).
No damages have been reported as a result of the storm, which developed into a hurricane Oct. 7 and made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River before becoming a tropical storm again Oct. 8, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
BSEE said Oct. 8 the storm caused the shut-in of about 1.6 million barrels per day of oil and 2,503 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, or about 78% of GoM’s daily gas production.
As oil and gas companies worked to bring production back online, the percentage of oil and gas shut in dropped slightly Oct. 9 when BSEE reported shut-in oil production was about 1.5 MMbbl/d, or about 85%. The amount of gas production shut in also dropped to 2,085 MMcf/d, or nearly 65%.
As of Oct. 9, BSEE said personnel remain evacuated from about 19% of the GoM’s 737 manned platforms, 40% of its 20 non-dynamically positioned (DP) rigs and just less than 39% of its 18 DP rigs.
“As the storm has passed, operators will begin to re-board and inspect their facilities. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back on line immediately,” BSEE said in its Oct. 8 storm update. “Any facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back online. Currently, no damages have been reported.”
Shell reported Oct. 8 that its drillships were returning to resume drilling and it was returning staff to its evacuated hubs—Mars, Olympus, Ursa and Ram Powell.
Operators began evacuating ahead of the storms arrival as early as Oct. 5.
“Production operations will resume once we can verify the integrity of our assets for safe operation, and the associated pipelines and downstream gas plants are back on line to accept product,” Shell said in a statement.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which removed personnel from its Horn Mountain, Marlin, Constitution, Holstein, Lucius and Marco Polo platforms and facilities, said it also is redeploying staff to its facilities with hopes to “resume production as quickly and safely as possible.”
Reuters reported that Chevron Corp. was doing the same as its Chevron Pipeline Co. unit assessed pipelines and facilities, including the Fourchon and Empire terminals.
Reuters reported that the prospective restarts are keeping price gains in check.
“Oil is having trouble to find direction. Mixed signals keep investors busy changing their minds,” Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro, told Reuters. “There is a good chance that we will continue to trade a bit sideways in the coming weeks up to the OPEC meeting.”
OPEC plans to meet Nov. 30 in Vienna.
A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude futures was trading at $49.44 per barrel at about 10 a.m. CT Oct. 9, while Brent was $55.67/bbl.
Velda Addison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.