29 August 2008 17:29 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Oil major Shell remains on track to shut in its offshore Gulf production by the weekend, as Tropical Storm Gustav threatens to repeat the disruptions caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it said on Friday.
October NYMEX light sweet crude futures were trading up $1.69/bbl from the previous close to $117.29/bbl at 10:45 Houston time (15:45 GMT) amid fears the storm disrupt production.
As of 10:00 Houston time, Gustav was about 165 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman, according to the National Hurricane Center.Shell said it will be down to minimum staffing levels for its production operations by the end of the day. By Saturday, it expects to continue the shut-in of all of its offshore production in the Gulf.
Already, ExxonMobil has started evacuating non-essential personnel from its offshore facilities, the company said. ExxonMobil is prepared to evacuate remaining personnel in advance of the storm.
However, ExxonMobil's plants and refineries remain operating normally, the company said.
Meteorologists warned that Gustav could strengthen from a tropical storm to a major hurricane, having wind speeds of at least 111 miles/hour (178km/hour).
Katrina and Rita were major hurricanes when they made landfall three years ago on the Gulf coast. Meteorologists expect Gustav to reach Louisiana by Tuesday.
Gustav could become a major hurricane as early as Saturday, before it reaches the western portions of Cuba, the centre said. By Sunday, Gustav should arrive in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
Additional reporting by David Rosen
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