03 June 2008 22:31 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--This year's hurricane season can disrupt US natural-gas supplies by several ways - from knocking out power to shutting in platforms, a trade group said on Tuesday.
US oil and gas production is concentrated in Gulf of Mexico and much of the country's plants are located on the Gulf coast, leaving the industry vulnerable to tropical storms.
While there are a growing number of deep-water platforms, many of them can produce remotely if they are in the fringes of a storm, said Larry Wall, spokesman for the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA), a group that represents the oil and natural-gas industry along the Gulf of Mexico.
However, older platforms often cannot produce remotely, Wall said. Moreover, producers will likely shut in platforms if they are in the middle of a storm.
Last year, a tropical depression led to a shut in of 30.8% of the US natural gas production in the Gulf coast.
Hurricanes can also disrupt natural-gas supplies by flooding roads - as what happened during the 2005 hurricane season, Wall said.
Storms can also knock out electricity, causing outages at processing plants, he said.
Supply disruptions would come at a time of high prices for natural gas, said Dan Borne, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association.
Moreover, a summer heat-wave could put more pressure on natural-gas supplies, as house owners consume more electricity to power air conditioners, he said.
Meteorologists are predicting an average to above-average number of hurricanes during this year's season.
The Weather Research Center, a Houston forecaster, is predicting 11 named storms to form in the Atlantic Ocean, with six becoming hurricanes, said Jill Hasling, the centre's meteorologist.
There is a 90% chance of a named storm hitting the oil leases in the Gulf, she said.
Regarding landfalls, there is a 40% chance of one along the Texas coast, she said. The Louisiana coast has a 60% chance of a landfall.
The US East coast has the greatest likelihood of a landfall, at 90%, Hasling said.
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts through 30 November.
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