Roughly 40 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil production and 28 percent of its natural gas production was shut down as of Tuesday, as the region braced for a powerful hurricane to make landfall.
At least 75 platforms were evacuated, according to Reuters, including those operated by Anadarko Petroleum, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil. Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it approached the Florida Panhandle, threatening catastrophic damage to Florida’s Gulf Coast. “Some additional strengthening is possible before landfall,” the National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour as of Wednesday morning.
An estimated 670,800 barrels per day of oil production and around 726 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production shut down. At least three drilling rigs were evacuated and eight more were moved out of the range of the storm, according to BSEE.
Also, the U.S.’ largest crude oil export terminal, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), idled operations. LOOP is the only port in the United States that can handle fully laden very large crude carriers (VLCCs), which can carry 2 million barrels of oil.
The storm will be a very different one than Hurricane Florence, which inundated much of North Carolina a few weeks ago. Florence was a slow moving monster that dumped biblical volumes of rain on the region. Michael is expected to move much faster, moving out of the region and up the U.S. Southeast pretty quickly. That should reduce the extent of damage from catastrophic flooding, but the high speed winds are expected to do a lot of damage. As many as 200,000 people in Florida could be without power, according to Duke Energy.
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