BP, BHP Group Ltd , Chevron Corp, Equinor and Royal Dutch Shell began withdrawing staff from their U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore facilities ahead of Tropical Storm Zeta.
The storm could reach hurricane strength before striking the Yucatan Peninsula at mid-day Monday, and approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday at or near hurricane strength, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Zeta was about 175 miles (285 km) south of Cozumel, Mexico, early Monday and moving northwest at nine miles per hour. Mexico’s government issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula.
“With forecasts indicating the storm will move across the Central and/or Northeastern Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, we are taking steps to respond,” BP said in a statement. It pulled oilworkers off all its four production platforms in the Gulf.
BHP, Chevron and Shell also began moving non-essential staff from offshore facilities, spokespeople said. Equinor withdrew workers and shut production on its Titan production platform, a spokesman said.
Occidental Petroleum Corp. , the third largest producer in the offshore Gulf of Mexico, did not reply to a request for comment.
It has been a challenging year for Gulf of Mexico oil producers, with some companies having to withdraw workers and halt production at least six times as storms churned through the Gulf’s offshore production region.
U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production accounts for about 17% of total U.S. crude oil production and 5% of total U.S. dry natural gas production.
If Zeta strikes the U.S. mainland, it would top the record of 10 named storms to make U.S. landfall in one hurricane season that was set only weeks ago by Hurricane Delta.
Mississippi River ports from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico were open on Monday but placed on notice of gale force winds from a storm due within 72 hours.
Previous related news. Zeta should be nothing like Delta was!!
A strengthening Hurricane Delta dealt the greatest blow to U.S. offshore Gulf of Mexico production in 15 years, halting most of the region’s oil and nearly two-thirds of its natural gas output.
An already large and powerful storm, Delta could intensify further on Friday as it churns through the Gulf’s prime oil-producing area. Its winds reached 120 miles per hour (195 kmh), according to the National Hurricane Center.
Delta has shut 1.67 million barrels per day, or 92% of the Gulf’s oil output, the most since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 100 offshore platforms and hobbled output for months.
Oil prices eased in early trading in Asia on Friday, but were on track for gains of about 10% for the week, boosted by outages in the Gulf of Mexico and a labor dispute in the North Sea. The two combined have removed 3.17 million barrels per day from the market.
Workers had evacuated 279 offshore Gulf of Mexico facilities and producers moved 15 drilling rigs away from Delta’s large and strong windfield. Tropical force winds stretched up to 160 miles from its center, the NHC said, a sign of its large size.