(Reuters) - Tropical Storm Gustav was forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days, posing the biggest threat to U.S. energy infrastructure since the devastating hurricanes of 2005.
Energy companies with interests in the region were already evacuating staff and making preparations to halt operations Thursday as the storm lumbers out of the Caribbean on a track that could take it to the Gulf Coast early next week.
The government and the International Energy Agency said Thursday they are prepared to release emergency crude oil stockpiles if the storm causes a significant supply disruption.
Weather forecaster Planalytics said Wednesday the storm could force shut 85 percent of the Gulf’s oil facilities.
Below is a list outlining the impact of Gustav on the U.S. oil sector so far:
- Shell, which evacuated 300 workers on Wednesday, planned to evacuate an additional 400 workers on Thursday as it pulls all 1,300 people off its platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The company planned to fly 600 workers from the Gulf on Friday and Saturday.
- Murphy Oil Corp said Thursday it is evacuating nonessential personnel from its Gulf of Mexico facilities ahead of Tropical Storm Gustav.
- Apache Corp said it was evacuating nonessential workers from platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Thursday due to the threat of Tropical Storm Gustav.
- ConocoPhillips said on Wednesday its Magnolia platform in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico was shut on August 25 for a planned overhaul unrelated to Gustav. Workers have been evacuated
- Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras said on Thursday that it would evacuate six nonessential personnel working in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and Friday due to the approach of Tropical Storm Gustav.
- BP Plc said it began evacuating nonessential workers from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday ahead of Tropical Storm Gustav, but production was unaffected.
- Shell Oil Co said it began shutting in a few Gulf of Mexico production well assets on Thursday morning due to the threat posed by Tropical Strom Gustav.
- Anadarko Petroleum Corp said on Thursday it expects production from all of its Gulf of Mexico facilities to be shut by Sunday. Anadarko-operated facilities in the Gulf of Mexico produce 348,000 barrels per day of oil and 2.320 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.
- French oil major Total SA may shut in oil and gas production on Saturday ahead of Tropical Storm Gustav, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.
- ConocoPhillips said on Wednesday its Magnolia platform in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico was shut on August 25 for a planned overhaul unrelated to Gustav. Workers have been evacuated.
- The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port said on Thursday it expects to halt accepting crude into its system as early as Saturday as Gustav approaches. The nation’s only deepwater oil port can offload 1 million barrels of crude oil per day.
- Valero Energy Corp, the largest U.S. refiner, said Thursday it had no plans yet to shut or evacuate any of its oil refineries along the Gulf Coast due to the threat of Tropical Storm Gustav.
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