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Upstream oil, gas operators restore US Gulf of Mexico production from storm Laura shut-ins


Oil shut-in volumes drop below 1 million b/d

1.12 Bcfd of natural gas volumes still out

Platforms re-crewed so far post-hurricane: 180

Houston — US oil and natural gas operators continued restoring production from Gulf of Mexico platforms that had been shut-in in advance of Hurricane Laura as that monster storm barreled through the region last week, although nearly 1 million b/d of oil is still shut in, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Aug 31.

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Around midday Aug. 31, 989,414 b/d of oil remained shut, or 53.5% of total US Gulf crude production, along with 1.12 Bcf/d of gas, or 41% of total Gulf gas output, according to the daily update.

So far, 117 producing platforms, or 18% of the region's total, remain evacuated, although crews have returned to 180 platforms of the 297 they had temporarily exited at peak last week, BSEE said. All current figures represent reporting from 35 companies.

In contrast, a day earlier on Aug. 30, 1.29 million b/d of oil, or nearly 70% the US Gulf's total, and 1.35 Bcf/d, or nearly 50% of the total gas output, remained shut in. Evacuated platforms totaled 137, or 21% of the Gulf's total.

At peak, 1.559 million b/d of oil production, or about 84% of pre-storm output, and 1.652 Bcf/d of gas, or 61% of gas output, were shut in from 297 platforms, with 45 companies reporting, BSEE said.

Hurricane Laura made landfall Aug. 27 around the Texas-Louisiana border as a Category 4 storm with winds up to 150 mph – the second-most powerful category on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

BHP's Shenzi platform ramps up

In addition, Australian producer BHP's Shenzi platform is in the process of ramping up, while its Neptune platform "is troubleshooting a few issues, but hope to be ramping up soon," company spokeswoman Judy Dane said Aug. 31.

Dane did not elaborate but said Neptune's issues are "assumed to be minor at this point."

Shenzi and Neptune are BHP's two operated US Gulf platforms, located offshore eastern Louisiana.

Also, Shell's aerial inspections of its US Gulf of Mexico Auger, Enchilada and Salsa production platforms indicated "no signifcant impact" from Hurricane Laura last week, the company said late Aug. 28.

As a result, it had planned to return crews to those assets over the weekend, Shell said.

But since the three platforms were in turnarounds for planned maintenance and repair, they will resume turnaround activities and remain shut in, Shell said.

All of the company's mobile drilling units have returned to drill sites to re-start operations, it added.

Over the weekend, Shell said it continues to return crews to production hubs in the Norphlet and Mars Corridors further east of Laura's passage. Those platforms had been evacuated as a safety precaution.

Total begins restart of Port Arthur refinery

Also, Total said it was beginning restart of its 225,500 b/d Port Arthur, Texas, refinery on Aug. 31, according to a filing with state regulators.

""The refinery is undergoing planned startup following Hurricane Laura," said the company filing made with the Texas Commission on Environment Quality on Aug. 31.

The refinery shut on Aug. 25 ahead of Hurricane Laura and is expected to fully back online by Sept. 7, according to the filing.

Closed refinery updates after Hurricane Laura
Capacity (b/d)
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Assessing damages
Phillips 66
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Assessing damages
Port Arthur, Texas
Preparing for restart
Port Arthur, Texas
Preparing for restart
Port Arthur, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Preparing for restart
Pasadena, Texas
Total capacity offline:
Source: Companies