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GOM Getting Back to Work while Ophelia Strengthens in Atlantic

Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil and natural gas production was coming back online and personnel were returning to work after Hurricane Nate ambled ashore over the weekend, with no offshore infrastructure reportedly damaged.

The remnants of Nate, a Category One storm, were expected to soak the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast after making two landfalls on the Gulf Coast Saturday night and Sunday morning. 

Nate, which traversed a rich natural gas and oil production area of the GOM before coming ashore, through midday Monday still was forcing the shut-in of 64.78%, or 2.086 Bcf/d of natural gas, based on operator reports submitted to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The amount of gas shut-in was down from Sunday, when 77.74% of gas production, or 2.503 Bcf/d, was unavailable, but higher than on Friday, when 53% reportedly was shut-in.

About 85% of oil production also remained shut-in as of midday Monday, equating to 1.49 million b/d. On Sunday shut-in oil totaled 92.6%, or 1.62 million b/d. For perspective, Hurricane Harvey shut-ins peaked at 835 MMcf/d and 430,000 b/d, according to Barclays Research.

Operators indicated personnel remained evacuated at midday Monday from 142 production platforms, about 19% of the 737 manned platforms, and were evacuated from eight non-dynamically positioned (DP) rigs, 40% currently in operation. Seven DP rigs moved as a precaution remained off location, representing 39% of the 18 DP rigs working.

A Chevron Corp. spokeswoman said personnel redeployments began Sunday, with GOM production set to be restored. Chevron Pipe Line Co. late Monday afternoon said it had reopened the Whitecap pipeline and the Fourchon and Empire terminals in Louisiana to receive and deliver oil.

The “priority is now to bring our assets to full operation as soon as it is safe to do so,” Chevron’s Isabel Ordonez said.

Meanwhile, hurricane watchers at midday Monday were keeping an eye on the Atlantic, where Tropical Storm Ophelia was packing 40 mph winds. The National Hurricane Center at midday Monday said Ophelia was as yet no threat to land, near latitude 31.4 North, longitude 39.9 West.

The storm was moving toward the north-northeast near 5 mph, with a motion toward the east-northeast and east forecast later Monday night, followed by a turn toward the east-southeast on Tuesday.

Ophelia’s maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening was forecast through Tuesday.

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