Chevron resuming GoM operations as Karen weakens
BY HARRY R. WEBER
SAN RAMON (Bloomberg) -- Chevron began returning workers to shuttered Gulf of Mexico operations and Anadarko Petroleum said it expected to follow suit as Tropical Storm Karen weakened off Louisiana.
Chevron, which produces oil and gas from the Tahiti and Blind Faith fields and has a stake in the Perdido development, said on its website that it would be resuming normal operations. It didn’t say how long that would would take.
The storm “doesn’t seem to be as significant as was once thought, but we’re still monitoring the situation,” Vincent Piazza, an oil production analyst for Bloomberg Industries, said. He said it was unclear how long the disruptions would last.
Anadarko, halted production and cleared employees from the Independence Hub and the Neptune, Constitution and Marco Polo platforms. Workers on the latter two may return later, John Christiansen, a spokesman at Anadarko’s headquarters, said by e-mail. Other companies with Gulf operations, including BP, the largest leaseholder in the deepwater there, kept energy production offline. Those producers and refiners planned to remobilize as conditions allowed.
Almost 62 % of Gulf oil production, some 866,000 bopd, and 48 % of natural gas output, or 1.8 Bcfpd , was offline, according to the United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
BP secured wells being drilled by rigs it operates in the Gulf. The company also halted production at all four of its platforms there (Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Na Kika and Mad Dog) and evacuated non-essential workers. Royal Dutch Shell cut rates at Louisiana and Alabama plants.
BHP Billiton, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil and the Williams were also among the companies curbing energy output. The storm, with top winds holding at 40 mph, was 130 miles south-southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, and had stalled, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Karen would be downgraded to a tropical depression if sustained winds drop below 39 mph, which the National Hurricane Center said will probably occur later.
Energy markets expect the storm to be “kind of a blip,” resulting in short lived supply disruptions, Dave Hackett, president of consulting firm Stillwater Associates, said.
“There were a lot of lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms,” he said. “A big tropical storm is wet, but don’t think it’ll do any serious damage.”
Shell cut rates at its 85,000 bpd plant in Mobile, Alabama, and Motiva Enterprises reduced output at the 250,000 bpd Norco, Louisiana, refinery because of shipment delays caused by Karen, Shell said on its website. Motiva is a joint venture of Shell and Saudi Aramco.
Shell, also was removing some nonessential personnel from drilling operations in the eastern Gulf, the company said on its website. Valero Energy, Marathon Petroleum, Chevron and other refinery operators said they were monitoring the storm and hadn’t cut production.
BP’s four deepwater platforms have a combined capacity to produce 660,000 bopd and 990 Mcfpd of natural, according to BP’s website. Marathon halted output and evacuated all workers from its Ewing Bank platform 130 miles south of New Orleans, the company said on its website. The company said it shut in a total of 18,000 boed.
BHP ceased production and evacuated its Gulf of Mexico facilities, Jaryl Strong, a spokesman for the company, said by e-mail. Williams shut and evacuated the Canyon Station, Devils Tower and Blind Faith platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the company said on its website.
Destin Pipeline, which can transport 1.2 Bcfpd of gas from the Gulf, declared force majeure October 3, saying in a notice to shippers that it’s incapable of providing services from its offshore receipt points because of the storm.
Enbridge's Manta Ray and Mississippi Canyon gas pipeline systems in the Gulf also declared force majeure. LOOP, the only United States port capable of offloading ultra- large crude carriers, suspended tanker operations, the company said in a statement on its website.