Onshore/Offshore Facilities

Major Storm Threat Prompts US Gulf Evacuations

Operators remove personnel, shut in production in the region ahead of Ida.

Ida, located south of Cuba, is expected to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane and head toward the Louisiana coast.
SOURCE: National Hurricane Center

Oil companies with operations in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM) have started evacuating workers from the area ahead of a forecast major hurricane for the region. Tropical Storm Ida is currently in the Caribbean Sea, but several predictive models have the storm strengthening into a powerful hurricane and cutting a swath through the heart of domestic offshore production off Louisiana. Louisiana has already declared a state of emergency and called on residents to prepare for a major hurricane.

Shell said it continues to actively monitor Ida, and as a precautionary measure began shutting in production and evacuating all personnel from the Ursa, Mars, Olympus, and Appomattox assets.

“In addition, production has been shut in at Stones as the FPSO Turritella prepares for the potential to disconnect and sail away to safer waters,” the company added in a statement. “Nonessential personnel continue to be moved from all eight of our assets. Some drilling operations have been safely paused.”

BP said it had begun securing its offshore facilities, evacuating personnel from four platforms and shutting in production. The mobile rigs contracted to BP in the region are in the process of securing their wells to safely evade the storm.

Chevron, Equinor, and others have also followed suit and began removing workers from the area.

As of midday, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that approximately 59% of the oil production and around 49% of the gas production has been shut in.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts Ida to spin up into a major hurricane and make landfall as a Category 3 storm (winds in excess of 111 miles per hour) near the central Louisiana coast late Sunday afternoon. The storm is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds, and heavy rains to the area.

Gulf of Mexico offshore wells account for 17% of US crude oil production. Over 45% of total US refining capacity lies along the Gulf Coast.

Oil prices jumped Friday morning on supply disruptions concerns ahead of Ida. Brent crude futures were $1.36, or 1.9%, higher, at $72.43/bbl. West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed $1.52, or 2.3%, to $68.94/bbl.

Ida is the ninth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, and the first in 2021 to pose a major threat to US oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.