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Energy

Early-season Gulf of Mexico storm trims some U.S. oil production

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Workers disembark from a helicopter after being evacuated from oil production platforms ahead of Tropical Storm Cristobal, at Bristow Galliano Heliport in Galliano, Louisiana, U.S. June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman/File Photo

HOUSTON, June 18 (Reuters) - The first storm to hit oil-producing regions of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico this year sent workers fleeing offshore oil platforms and cut some production.

A weather disturbance in the central Gulf of Mexico was expected to become a tropical storm on Friday. It was moving north at about 14 miles per hour (22 kmh) and could bring up to 12-inches of rain to the central U.S. Gulf Coast by Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

Equinor ASA (EQNR.OL) on Friday said it had removed staff and shut production at its Titan platform, which is about 65 miles (105 km) off the coast of Louisiana. Chevron (CVX.N) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY.N) also removed staff and began taking precautions at their offshore oil and gas platforms.

"This is not that unusual to run evacuation flights this early in the season," said Jason Glynn, director of operations at a Bristow Group offshore crew transport unit in Louisiana. "The last couple of years we've always had one softball like this early in the season."

Chevron removed non-essential staff from three U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil platforms and fully evacuated a fourth that is about 150 miles sought of Louisiana. Production halts on two platforms could be lifted over the weekend.

"All of our facilities have plans to prepare for weather-related events and are implementing those procedures," Occidental said on its website. It did not comment on production.

Fieldwood Energy evacuated its South Marsh Island 128 platform, disrupting natural gas transfers to onshore facilities. A spokesperson did not reply to requests for comment.

Other major producers including BP, BHP, Royal Dutch Shell and Murphy Oil said they were monitoring weather conditions but production had not been affected.

Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the region's only deepwater oil export port, was operating normally. Offshore pipeline operator Enbridge said all of its systems were flowing.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by David Gregorio

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