* No platform or refinery damage reported from storm
* Energy firms inspect infrastructure, aim to restart output
* Belle Chasse, Louisiana refinery safe from flooding-report
* LOOP oil terminal can operate on backup power after outage
* Oil futures fall, natural gas futures rise
By Kristen Hays and Erwin Seba
HOUSTON, Aug 30 Oil and gas companies assessed
their U.S. Gulf region installations on Thursday for damages in
the wake of Hurricane Isaac, which has weakened to a tropical
storm and moved inland.
The oil and gas industry in the Gulf region has so far
reported no major storm-related damage to infrastructure, and
companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, said they could
restart shut-in offshore production as early as Friday.
Isaac moved north on Thursday, after hitting Louisiana at
hurricane strength earlier this week. The storm had triggered
widespread, precautionary production cuts from the Gulf region's
offshore platforms and onshore refineries this week.
U.S. oil futures fell 1.2 percent to $94.28 a barrel
as of 10:47 a.m. EDT (1447 GMT). Natural gas futures rose 1
Henry Hub terminal, the Louisiana delivery point for
benchmark NYMEX gas contracts, was operating normally, a
spokesman from NYMEX owner CME said.
"We haven't heard of significant damage and it seems most of
the concern has passed," said Matt Smith, analyst at Summit
Energy in Louisville, Kentucky.
"Now it's just a case of the actual production coming back
online. We'll probably see a temporary drop in crude imports due
to Isaac and a drop in crude demand from refineries that have
Ninety-five percent of oil output and 72 percent of natural
gas production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico remained shut in, and
5.5 percent of U.S. refining capacity remained offline due to
Isaac as of Wednesday, government figures showed.
One southern Louisiana refinery that had been at risk from
floods - the 247,000 barrel per day (bpd) Phillips 66
plant in Belle Chasse - "seems to be fine" and wasn't flooded,
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told WWL 870 local
radio early Thursday.
Phillips wasn't immediately available to comment.
Independent refiner Valero said it detected no
structural damage at two Louisiana refineries it operates,
during a preliminary inspection on Thursday. It was still
unclear when the plants would restart.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), a crude terminal
that typically handles 13 percent of U.S. imports, has adequate
backup power generation to restart deliveries and meet
anticipated demand from refineries after Isaac passes,
spokeswoman Barb Hesterman said.
LOOP facilities, including its onshore terminal at
Clovelly, Louisiana, suffered power outages after a transmission
line was damaged. The line could be difficult to repair since it
crosses a marsh, utility Entergy Corp. said.
Hesterman said LOOP personnel were inspecting for damages on
Thursday. LOOP operations have been suspended this week and
Hesterman said it wasn't immediately clear when it would
Major offshore oil and gas producers said they would begin
inspecting platforms for any Isaac-related damages on Thursday,
and hoped to re-staff them soon.
The U.S. Gulf typically accounts for 23 percent of domestic
oil and 7 percent of natural gas production. The coastal
region's refineries account for 45 percent of U.S. crude
The National Hurricane Center said Isaac was moving
north-westward over Central Louisiana with maximum sustained
winds of 45 miles (75 km) per hour as of 8:00 a.m. EDT (1200
GMT) on Thursday.