Almost 67% of US Gulf oil production shut as Hurricane Zeta nears Louisiana

Adam Yanelli

28-Oct-2020

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Companies have shut in about two-thirds of oil production and a little less than half of natural gas production in the US Gulf as Hurricane Zeta approaches the southeast Louisiana coast.

The following shows the amount of US oil and natural-gas production shut-in in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Oil figures are in bbl/day and gas is in millions of cubic feet (mcf)/day.

Shut-In % of output
Oil 1.23m 66.60
Natgas 1,205 44.50

Companies have evacuated 228 platforms, which account for 36% of the 643 manned platforms in the Gulf.

A total of six dynamically positioned rigs have moved off location out of the hurricane’s projected path as a precaution, which represents about 38% of the 16 dynamically positioned rigs currently operating in the Gulf. That is down from nine dynamically positioned rigs which had been moved as of midday on Tuesday.

Zeta has gained strength and is a now a category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles/hour (155km/hour), according to meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center.

According to the Saffir-Simpson index, a storm reaches major hurricane strength when sustained winds reach 111 miles/hour.

As of midday the storm is 155 miles south southwest of New Orleans and moving north northeast at 20 miles/hour. Meteorologists expect the storm to make landfall in southeast Louisiana on Wednesday evening.

The following map shows the forecast path of Zeta.

Source: National Hurricane Center

Hurricanes can affect the chemical industry because of the Gulf of Mexico’s large amount of oil and gas production. Offshore oil wells in the US Gulf account for 17% of the nation’s crude production, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Most chemical companies were monitoring the storm but continuing to operate plants.

Based on the latest track, the storm has the most potential to affect DAK Americas’ polyester fibre plant in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, and INEOS Phenol’s acetone, phenol and cyclohexane production in Mobile, Alabama.

US Gulf Coast area shipping ports have changed their status ahead of Tropical Storm Zeta landfall in the region on Wednesday.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) is monitoring the storm and Clovelly Hub deliveries remained normal as of midday on Wednesday. The LOOP is an offshore oil terminal that is 20 miles from the coast. It is the only US port capable of fully loading a very large crude carrier (VLCC).

Norfolk Southern Railroad said it is monitoring the storm and that it expects it to impact local service to New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. This is also expected to impact interchange traffic in New Orleans, the railroad company said.

Kansas City Southern Railroad said the Flood Protection Agency (FPA) recommended that the New Orleans Public Belt (NOPB) be closed in advance of the storm. Additionally, the Port at Gulfport, MS, is closing, as well, affecting service in and out of the port as well as our interchange with CSX in Gulfport.

Hurricane Delta hit Creole, Louisiana, as a category 2 hurricane three weeks ago. It weakened into a category 1 as it moved inland, causing widespread power outages.

Zeta’s path is putting it on track to become the sixth named storm to make landfall on the US Gulf Coast this season.

Additional reporting by Amanda Hay, Al Greenwood and Anna Matherne

Click here to view the US Gulf storms – impacts on chemicals topic page. 

Thumbnail image shows Hurricane Zeta. Image courtesy the National Hurricane Center

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