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Operators begin to restore production at US Gulf of Mexico platforms, but few report so far

Houston — Upstream operators have begun restoring output and returning crews to US Gulf of Mexico platforms Aug. 27 in the aftermath of powerful Hurricane Laura which came ashore early in the day, although few have reported so far, according to federal agency updates.

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As a result, shut-in volumes virtually resembled those of a day before, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in its daily update.

By midday Aug. 27, just two platforms had been restored from the previous day, but 297 or 46% of the total, were still shut-in, BSEE said.

Factbox: US Gulf Coast energy industry assessing impacts of Hurricane Laura

That amounted to 1.559 million b/d of oil, or 84% of the total, still offline. In addition, 1.628 Bcf/d of natural gas, or 60%, remained shut-in, BSEE said, down from 61% a day earlier.

Chevron said earlier Aug. 27 it had begun to bring back crews and restore production at its operated US Gulf of Mexico platforms that were shut-in over last weekend in advance of two hurricanes that threatened output in that region earlier in the week.

BHP was expected to begin assessments of Gulf of Mexico platforms later Aug. 27, company spokeswoman Judy Dane said.

"Weather permitting, we will begin impact assessments later this afternoon for Shenzi and Neptune," Dane said. "Accordingly, our remobilization plans will be determined based on those assessments."

"As of now, our priority remains ensuring the safety of our team members and providing support where needed," she added.

Before Hurricane Laura struck southwest Louisiana as a dangerous Category 4 storm early Aug. 27, US Gulf operators a day earlier had shut in 1.559 million b/d of oil from platforms, amounting to about 84% of all output from the region, and 1.652 Bcf/d of natural gas, or 61% of gas output.

So far, none of the dozen companies contacted by S&P Global Platts had restored production yet.

Even though some meteorologists had deemed the expected storm surge to be "unsurvivable" for humans remaining in areas close to the hurricane's landfall, the storm was fast-moving and surges in certain parts of the Gulf Coast were still lower-than-expected, Jim Williams, president of WTRG Economics, said.

That was good for US Gulf Coast refineries but in particular, better for offshore pipelines that come ashore, Williams said.

"They're most at risk in shallow waters where it comes ashore," he said. "In previous hurricanes they were damaged which cut production, but [from Laura] there was probably little or no damage from the hurricane."