Shell may restart hurricane-hit Gulf platforms ahead of schedule

Sheela Tobben 10/22/2021

(Bloomberg) --Royal Dutch Shell is hoping to restart its Ursa oil and gas platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as early as the first half of November, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

The 100,000-barrel-a-day Ursa and the Shell’s other 60,000-barrel a day Mars offshore platforms have been shut since Hurricane Ida disrupted the U.S. oil industry in late August. Shell had said their restarts are pending the completion of repairs to a transfer facility known as West Delta 143, or WD-143.

Shell expects the WD-143 facility to restart also in the first half of November, the company said in a statement on Friday. Once the facility is operational, the Mars Oil Pipeline is expected to resume normal operations as producers ramp up production, according to the statement.

The platforms are key to the production of U.S. sour crude that competes with supplies from OPEC nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq and is used by refineries on the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Ida had an unprecedented impact on the oil industry, causing the loss of 30 million barrels of offshore production.

Last month, Shell estimated the two production platforms would be offline until the first quarter of 2022. Earlier this month the company restored service to the Olympus field, after making fixes to a portion of that facility. 

Before Ida, the Mars Pipeline, which receives sour crude from various production fields that gets marketed as Mars Blend, transported over 480,000 barrels a day of supplies, according to the latest available Louisiana state data for the month of July.

Mars Blend was priced at $2.40 a barrel below Nymex oil futures Friday morning, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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