Gulf Oil and Gas Operators Evacuating Platforms
Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs in the path of Tropical Depression No. 9.
Based on data from offshore operator reports by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), personnel have been evacuated from a total of six production platforms, equivalent to less than one percent of the 781 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Production platforms are the structures located offshore from which oil and natural gas are produced. Unlike drilling rigs, which typically move from location to location, production facilities remain in the same location throughout a project’s duration.
Personnel have been evacuated from one rig, equivalent to 6.25 percent of the 16 rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf.
A total of five DP rigs have moved off location out of the storm’s path as a precaution. This number represents 20 percent of such rigs currently operating in the Gulf.
DP rigs maintain their location while conducting well operations by using thrusters and propellers. The rigs are not moored to the sea floor.
As part of the evacuation process, personnel activate the applicable shut-in procedure, which can frequently be accomplished from a remote location. This involves closing the sub-surface safety valves located below the surface of the ocean floor to prevent the release of oil or gas. During previous hurricane seasons, the shut-in valves functioned 100 percent of the time, efficiently shutting in production from wells on the Outer Continental Shelf and protecting the marine and coastal environments. Shutting-in oil and gas production is a standard procedure conducted by industry for safety and environmental reasons.
From operator reports, it is estimated that approximately 11.48 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. It is also estimated that approximately 5.51 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.
After the storm has passed, facilities will be inspected. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back on line immediately. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back on line.
The BSEE Hurricane Response Team has been activated and is monitoring the operators’ activities. The team will continue to work with offshore operators and other state and federal agencies until operations return to normal and the storm is no longer a threat to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas activities.