A few offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs and shutting in supply in advance of Tropical Storm Nate, which is still strengthening and could reach hurricane status before making landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast by Sunday, Oct. 8.
In a report released Oct. 5, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that about 207 MMcf/d of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is currently shut-in, equal to about 6.4% of the region's gas-producing capacity.
In addition, the bureau estimates that about 254,607 barrels of oil per day, or more than 14.5% of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, was currently offline as a result of the storm.
Personnel have been evacuated from a total of six production platforms, which are offshore structures that typically remain in the same location throughout a project's duration. This represents 0.8% of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
One of the 18 dynamically positioned rigs currently operating in the Gulf has moved off location out of the storm's path as a precaution.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the center of Tropical Storm Nate as of 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 5 was located about 50 miles northwest of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and about 50 miles south-southwest of Puerto Lempira, Honduras, moving toward the northwest near 9 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts.
A turn toward the north-northwest at a faster forward speed is expected through Oct. 6 as the system approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. Farther out, the system is seen reaching hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico by early Oct. 7 and reaching the U.S. Gulf Coast by early Oct. 8.
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.