Damage to several natural gas gathering and offshore systems in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and restricted access to roads because of flooding onshore is delaying the return to full production following Hurricane Ike, federal officials said Thursday. The Minerals Management Service (MMS), which earlier this week reported 28 offshore platforms had been destroyed, revised the number upward to 48.

Most of the platforms were located in shallow Louisiana waters along the Outer Continental Shelf, with combined production of 13,000 b/d of oil and 84 MMcf/d of natural gas, MMS stated. The federal agency did not know if the structures would be rebuilt.

In its Thursday afternoon situation report, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability said a force majeure remains in effect for “multiple” pipe and gathering systems along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. Many operators also have been unable to get crews into some onshore areas to complete assessments and repairs to their gas processing facilities.

“It appears the market hastily shrugged off the supply impact of recent storm activity and is now playing catch-up as the storage outlook becomes less comfortable than previously anticipated,” wrote energy analysts with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey/the Gerdes Group. The comments echoed views by other energy analysts (see Daily GPI, Sept. 18).

Tennessee Gas Pipeline reported leaks on the East Leg mainline of its Blue Water System. Also reporting problems Wednesday were Enbridge Pipelines, which owns and operates UTOS, Garden Banks, Manta Ray, Mississippi Canyon, Nautilus and Stingray. All of them remained shut in Wednesday.

“Mississippi Canyon is the only Enbridge Pipeline that has reported an expected date of return to service” for Sunday, DOE stated. “There is no estimate of return to service for the other pipelines at this time.”

Ten of the 39 major gas processing plants in Ike’s path also remained shut down Thursday afternoon, according to the Energy Information Administration. The 10 shuttered plants have an operating capacity of 5.83 Bcf/d. Nineteen plants have resumed operations at reduced or normal levels with 7.2 Bcf/d of capacity; another nine plants, with 4.43 Bcf/d of capacity, will be able to restart when power is restored and upstream gas flow begins, EIA noted.

Based on reports from 80 offshore operators, the MMS at midday Thursday estimated that 77.6% of the gas production from the GOM remained shut in. Before Hurricane Gustav struck earlier this month, the GOM was producing around 7.4 Bcf/d. MMS also estimated that 93% of the oil output was shut in; in June it estimated that GOM oil output was 1.3 million b/d. There are 326, or 45.5%, of the 717 GOM production platforms still unmanned. Personnel also remained evacuated from 19 rigs, or 15.7% of the 121 GOM rigs.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources reported to DOE late Wednesday that 428 MMcf/d, or 26% of the state’s daily gas output capacity of 1,642 MMcf/d, had been restored as of late Wednesday. The estimated gas production still shut in was 900 MMcf/d; the status of the remaining 312 MMcf/d had not been confirmed, DOE noted. Nineteen percent of the state’s oil production, or 28,874 b/d, had been restored.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) also is assessing the possible damage to oil and gas production facilities and refineries in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

“Because much of the production in the Gulf region was already shut in as a result of Hurricane Gustav, and supply is less tight, the situation is quite different from that of 2005,” IEA noted. “After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico three years ago, there was extensive visible damage to rigs, refiners and pipelines. At that time, it was evident that repairs could take up to two months. This time, the damage is less visible at first sight, but requires assessments on a case-by-case basis to evaluate product loss in the coming days.”

The massive power outages, which have darkened the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area, including Galveston, since last Saturday continued, with around 1.3 million CenterPoint customers still waiting for repairs. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission discussed the recovery efforts during a Commission meeting on Thursday.

“We’ve seen millions of Americans lose power, and many are still out of power,” Chairman Joseph Kelliher said of hurricanes Ike and Gustav. “In both cases there was significant damage to both the transmission and distribution systems. Hurricane Ike, in particular, had a greater impact certainly in East Texas than hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and very significant damage to transmission lines and towers…

“Restoration in the wake of Hurricane Gustav is proceeding well; 94% of the transmission lines have been restored and all but, I think, one of the generating stations has been returned to service,” noted Kelliher. “At the height of the restoration effort after Hurricane Gustav there were 15,000 workers dedicated to restoration, and I think that really shows the way the industry responds to these events…Hurricane Ike had a very big impact and it really penetrated deep inside the country and covered four different regional markets…and altogether 35 electric utilities and eight large [electric cooperatives] experienced very large losses, and millions of Americans lost power.”

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