Hurricane Isaac shuts in oil, gas production from gulf

This story was updated at 2 p.m. Aug. 29 with the latest statistics from BSEE.

Industry had shut in most of the US Gulf of Mexico offshore crude production before Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Plaquemines Parish, La., Aug. 29 as a slow-moving Category 1 hurricane. Along the gulf coast, Louisiana received the brunt of Isaac’s 70 mph winds and heavy rain as it veered west of New Orleans 7 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding devastated New Orleans.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Isaac was not nearly as powerful as Katrina. Improvements made since Katrina were expected to prevent the flooding experienced in 2005 when coastal waters pushed through and over some levees.

Still, Isaac was expected to affect weather as far west as High Island, Tex., and as far east as the Florida Panhandle.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported industry had shut in 1.3 million b/d, or 94.7%, of oil production from the gulf, and 3.2 bcfd, or 71.64%, of the gas production according to reports submitted by 11:30 a.m. Aug. 29.

BSEE’s Hurricane Response Team reported 505 production platforms, or 84.7%, of the manned platforms in the gulf, were evacuated. In addition, BSEE said all dynamically positioned drilling rigs that were moved before Isaac were confirmed as keeping station as intended during the storm.

In addition, workers had been evacuated from 50 rigs, equivalent to 65.79% of rigs currently operating in the gulf. Rigs include several types of self-contained offshore drilling facilities, including jack ups, submersibles, and semisubmersibles.

The Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability reported five refineries, as of 1:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 28, were shut down or in the process of shutting down, representing 936,500 b/d of refining capacity, or 12% of total Gulf Coast refining capacity.

The 936,500 b/d total did not include Valero’s 125,000 b/d refinery at Meraux, La., because it already was shut for reasons unrelated to Isaac, DOE said.

Three additional refineries in the path of the storm with an aggregated capacity of 1.23 million b/d were operating at reduced rates.

Marathon Petroleum Co. reported its Garyville, La., refinery will operate at reduced rates instead of being shut.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port suspended tanker unloading at the terminal on Aug. 27. LOOP anticipated that offshore offloading could resume late Aug. 30 or early Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, LOOP continued to make deliveries from its onshore facilities.

As of Aug. 28, the US Coast Guard reported the Port of Pascagoula was closed and the Port of Panama City remained open with restrictions.

Parts of the southern Lower Mississippi River had been closed to deep draft vessels since Aug. 26. The Port of New Orleans ceased cargo operations Aug. 27, and parts of the southern Lower Mississippi River were closed to deep draft vessels starting Aug. 26.

The Capline crude oil pipeline (1.2 million b/d), which transports crude oil from the LOOP to refineries in the US Midwest, was shut down on the evening of Aug. 26.

Regarding natural gas pipelines, DOE reported that of as of Aug. 28, Dauphin Island Gathering System, Destin Pipeline Co., Florida Gas Transmission Co., Mississippi Canyon Gas Pipeline, Southern Natural Gas, and Venice Gas Gathering System have declared force majeure on their systems due to production shut ins in the gulf.

Several companies partially shut in their pipeline systems. These include ANR Pipeline Co., Columbia Gulf Transmission Co., Nautilus Pipeline Co., Sea Robin Pipeline Co., Stingray Pipeline Co., and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.

As of 11:00 a.m. EDT Aug. 28, two Louisiana gas processing plants were shut down in anticipation of Isaac. Those plants were the Yscloskey in St. Bernard and the North Terrebonne in Gibson. Yscloskey has a 1.8 bcfd capacity and North Terrebonne has a 1.1 bcfd capacity.

DOE said 27 gas processing plants having a combined processing capacity of 13.5 bcfd were forecast to be in Isaac’s path.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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