27 August 2012 19:31 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Producers have shut-in more than three quarters of the oil production of the Gulf of Mexico as they prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac, a government agency said on Monday.
So far, companies have evacuated 346 production platforms, or 58.05% of the 596 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
As such, 78.02% of the daily oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in, the bureau said. For natural gas, 48.13% has been shut-in.
Tropical Storm Isaac will likely strengthen into a hurricane before it hits the US Gulf coast by Wednesday.
Isaac's centre was about 280 miles (450 km) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi river, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was travelling northwest at about 14 miles/hour.
By Wednesday, when Isaac could make landfall near the Mississippi River, it will likely become a hurricane, with wind speeds of at least 74 miles/hour, the centre said.
Hurricanes can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry, because most of the country's chemical plants are concentrated along the US Gulf coast.
Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies from the Gulf because companies must evacuate their offshore platforms as a precaution.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) began shutting down marine operations and would suspend oil tanker deliveries on Monday afternoon in anticipation of Isaac's expected landfall east of New Orleans, a spokeswoman said.
The deepwater port in the Gulf of Mexico planned to stop offloading oil tankers Monday afternoon, but would continue to make deliveries from onshore facilities as conditions allow, said LOOP spokeswoman Barb Hesterman.
The LOOP is the single largest point of entry for crude oil coming into the US, delivering about 1m bbl/day of foreign crude to refiners on the US Gulf coast.
Additional reporting by Lane Kelley
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