The tail end of the uneventful 2009 Gulf of Mexico (GOM) hurricane season was punctuated last week by the threat of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ida, which sent some offshore operators scurrying to evacuate crews and shut in production in the eastern GOM. However, Ida's impact was short-lived and traders mostly yawned.

Operators began pulling in crews and shutting in production on Sunday (Nov. 8). Ida, which had been a Category 2 hurricane, made landfall as a tropical storm early Tuesday, first on Dauphin Island and then at Mobile, AL. The storm caused some flooding and minimal power outages, according to press reports.

Offshore, though, Ida got a rise out of energy interests. Based on data submitted by 43 companies to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) as of late Tuesday (Nov. 10) morning, personnel had been evacuated from 158 production platforms, equivalent to 22.8% of the 694 manned platforms in the GOM. Personnel from 10 rigs had been evacuated, equivalent to 15.2% of the 66 rigs that had been operating in the Gulf. It was estimated that approximately 43.09% of oil production in the GOM and approximately 27.96% of natural gas production was shut in. Estimated production from the GOM as of March 2009 was 1.3 million b/d of oil and 7 Bcf/d of gas.

Last Monday morning Williams said production loss on its Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco) was about 250 MMcf/d. El Paso Corp. said late last Monday morning its Tennessee Gas Pipeline system had lost about 800 MMcf/d of throughput due to Ida, while affiliate Southern Natural Gas reported a reduction of 240 MMcf/d. Shell said due to third-party downstream operations decisions, Shell-operated production for a part of the company's East operations would be impacted starting last Monday.

Most of the producers reported evacuating platforms and shutting in production ahead of the storm.

"Shell safely evacuated about 160 people over the weekend who were not essential to producing and drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico," the company said last Monday.

Before the storm arrived Chevron Corp. said it had begun to evacuate some GOM personnel and some production had been shut in. Marathon Oil Corp. reported shutting in about 10.5 MMcf/d of gas and 11,700 b/d of oil production. BP plc said some production had been shut in and some personnel evacuated. Enterprise Products Partners said last Monday the deepwater Independence Hub was shut in, curtailing about 700 MMcf/d.

However, by last Thursday MMS said personnel remained evacuated from only one production platform. There were no longer any rig evacuations, MMS said. It was estimated that 2.22% of oil production and 2.66% of the natural gas production was still shut in.

As Ida was approaching traders seemed to be influenced more by moderate temperatures and the previous Friday's 18.7-cent natural gas futures drop in pushing a large majority of points lower during trading last Monday.

With the passing of the storm operators quickly set to returning to normal operations.

"With Tropical Storm Ida making landfall and moving onshore to the northeast, Shell drilling and producing operations in the Gulf of Mexico are returning to normal," the major said in a notice last Tuesday morning. "There was no significant damage to any Shell-operated facilities. The minimal Shell-operated production shut in on Monday will resume today as downstream operators return personnel to their facilities."

Anadarko had evacuated and shut in production at four operated facilities in the eastern GOM. The facilities -- Independence Hub, Constitution, Marco Polo and Neptune) -- and one nonoperated facility Blind Faith) were producing approximately 105,000 boe/d net to Anadarko prior to being shut in.

"Now that Hurricane Ida has passed and weakened to a tropical depression, we are in the process of assessing our facilities and anticipate returning personnel to our operated platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and tomorrow," Anadarko said last Tuesday.

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