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Shell shuts US Gulf of Mexico production ahead of Tropical Storms Marco, Laura


Shell shuts in majority of US Gulf of Mexico production Aug. 22

BHP has evacuation plans for non-essential crews

Houston — More US producers have taken steps to either evacuate crews from Gulf of Mexico platforms as Tropical Storms Marco and Laura continued their northward push toward the Gulf Coast and expected landfalls later in the week.

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Shell said Aug. 22 that it is now shutting in production at the "majority" of its Gulf of Mexico assets and evacuating crews from platforms.

"Drilling operations have been safely paused as well," Shell said.

Late on Aug. 21, Chevron said it was shutting in production from four large platforms: Big Foot, Genesis, Jack/St Malo and Tahiti.

Australia's BHP said it was "closely monitoring" the two storms and had "put in contingency plans to evacuate non-essential personnel at Neptune and Shenzi [fields] if necessary."

"As the forecasts become more clear we will make that determination," BHP spokeswoman Judy Dane said in an email on Aug. 21.

BP had said Aug. 21 it was shutting down its four large US Gulf platforms – Thunder Horse, Mad Dog, Atlantis and Na Kika and also evacuating crews from its platforms and drilling rigs.

And Norway's Equinor said it planned to begin evacuating non-essential crews Aug. 22.

Depression 14 becomes Marco

Tropical Storm Marco, which was initially called Tropical Depression 14, became a named storm late Aug. 21. Both Marco and Laura are still in the Caribbean, but continue to head north toward the US Gulf Coast.

However, their tracks are both now more westward, National Hurricane Center maps show.

Laura was initially projected to strike the US Gulf Coast east of Louisiana, but maps now show the storm entering that state west of New Orleans later Aug. 26.

Marco, which at first appeared headed straight for Houston, now has a more flattened track and may hit late Aug. 25 or early Aug. 26 slightly to the southwest, NHC maps show.

Early on Aug. 22, Laura was sited near or over Puerto Rico. And Marco, while it may make landfall as a hurricane, should remain a tropical storm, according to NHC.

Laura's track takes that storm through the heart of US Gulf producing areas, and more notices of output shut-ins and crew evacuations are expected over the weekend.

In contrast, Marco – currently sited east of the Yucatan Peninsula – is targeted to move through areas a little more to the south and west in the Gulf but still cross some producing regions.