14 September 2008 17:18 [Source: ICIS news]
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (ICIS news)--Two US drilling rigs were adrift in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday after being torn from their moorings by Hurricane Ike but they pose no immediate threat to other Gulf facilities, federal officials said.
Officials with the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) said that though adrift, the two rigs have not moved very far and there are no infrastructure assets in their immediate vicinity that might be threatened.
The service, which is the federal agency responsible for leasing and drilling activity in US waters of the Gulf, did not identify the rigs or their owners.
“MMS is closely monitoring these rigs, and they have been relatively stationary for several hours,” said Lars Herbst, MMS regional director for the Gulf.
Before each hurricane season the service surveys Gulf rigs and platforms for a risk assessment analysis, Herbst noted, so he is confident there is minimal infrastructure in the areas around the two drifting rigs.
In addition, he said, “We expect tugs to be on location to secure the rigs as soon as sea conditions allow.” He could not say how soon that might be.
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In addition to being on the lookout for these two or other drifting rigs, the over-flights will allow a preliminary survey of damage to oil and gas production platforms and rigs that have held steady.
Herbst noted, however, that detailed damage estimates cannot be confirmed until the structures are boarded and on-site inspections are done.
The MMS said that about 98% of US natural gas production and 99% of oil output in Gulf waters remain shut-in due to Hurricane Ike and the earlier Hurricane Gustav, both of which forced wide-scale evacuations of offshore facilities.
The US chemicals industry is heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock, and storm-related disruptions in Gulf gas production can trigger sharp spikes in already high natgas prices.
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