Gulf of Mexico operators monitor tropical disturbance

OREANDA-NEWS. August 29, 2016.  US Gulf of Mexico offshore operators Shell and BP are taking measures to prepare for a tropical disturbance, including some evacuations and shut-ins.

BP is securing its offshore drilling facilities and is evacuating non-essential personnel from our platforms and drilling rigs, the major said in a statement.

Shell has also suspended drilling operations, but production remains unaffected, it said. It is "limiting the amount of personnel offshore to those directly involved in core activities essential to maintaining safe operations," it said.

An area of low pressure near the southeastern Bahamas could intensify as it reaches the eastern US Gulf of Mexico. "Although this system is projected to remain weak overall, a track towards the key production areas still cannot be ruled out," the private forecaster MDA Weather Services said today.

Energy markets keep a close eye on storm activity that can threaten production in the oil- and natural gas-rich US Gulf of Mexico or that can cripple infrastructure along the US Gulf coast.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc on energy markets in 2005 before so much domestic production migrated to onshore shale fields. That shift has muted the affect that storms can have on energy prices. But severe storms can still disrupt operations at power plants and refineries, crimping demand for crude and gas, and potentially leading to spikes in the price of gasoline and other refined products.

The US Gulf of Mexico in 2015 accounted for about 16pc of domestic crude production, 5pc of marketed gas production, and was home to about 46pc of US refinery capacity, according to US Energy Information Administration data.