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Oil, gas production in Gulf of Mexico begins to return after Nate

Offshore oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico are beginning to repopulate their platforms and ramp supply after the landfall of Hurricane Nate on Oct. 7.

In a report released Oct. 9, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that almost 2.1 Bcf/d of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is still shut-in, down from a peak of 2.5 Bcf/d reported offline on Oct. 8. The amount of production currently idled is equal to almost 65% of the region's gas-producing capacity.

In addition, the bureau estimates that about 1.49 million barrels of oil per day, or more than 85% of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, remains offline. The amount of gas production shut-in for the storm peaked on Oct. 8 at 1.62 million barrels per day.

Personnel remain evacuated from a total of 142 production platforms, down from a peak of more than 300 on Oct. 7. The current evacuations represent more than 19% of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, eight nondynamically positioned rigs, equivalent to 40% of the region's total, are still evacuated, and seven of the 18 dynamically positioned rigs currently operating in the Gulf have moved.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Gulf of Mexico federal offshore region accounts for about 5% of total U.S. dry gas production and about 17% of total U.S. crude oil production. The Gulf Coast also accounts for more than 45% of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity and 51% of total U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity.

Hurricane Nate made landfall on Mississippi late Oct. 7 as a Category 1 hurricane but has since been downgraded to a tropical depression. According to an Oct. 8 report from the U.S. Department of Energy, the storm knocked out power to more than 111,000 throughout the Gulf Coast region and shut two refineries with a combined capacity of 587,000 barrels of oil per day, which represents 6% of total U.S. Gulf Coast refining capacity.