Around 87.5% of the natural gas and 95.2% of the oil produced in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) remained shut in at midday Thursday, according to the Minerals Management Service (MMS). Estimated gas output from the GOM before Hurricane Gustav was 7.4 Bcf/d; oil production was around 1.3 million b/d.
The MMS based its production estimate on 72 operator reports that were submitted to the agency. The reports indicated that personnel remain evacuated from 527 production platforms, or 73.5% of the 717 manned platforms in the GOM. Personnel from 63 of the 121 rigs, or 52.1%, also remain evacuated, MMS noted.
Damage assessments following Gustav have been positive (see Daily GPI, Sept. 4), but onshore facilities have been hampered by power outages.
The CEO of oilfield services provider Baker Hughes Inc. said fallen power lines, blocked roads and flooding have prevented the company from reaching 20 of the 43 installations evacuated ahead of Gustav.
“Although Gustav was not as destructive in many ways as [Hurricane] Katrina, I think from a disruption standpoint it’s even more disruptive,” CEO Chad Deaton said during a webcast. “We are a little concerned about storm delays,” which could impact some projects scheduled through the rest of the year.
Enterprise Products Partners LP, which has been assessing its Gulf Coast operations onshore and offshore, said Thursday that its assessment has so far found “little or no damage.” However, power outages along the coast are preventing onshore operations from ramping up. Enterprise also has three platforms offshore that have been restaffed, and part of its High Island Offshore system was flowing gas at reduced volumes Thursday.
Onshore, Enterprise is “waiting for power to be restored, so until then our fractionators and gas processing plants in Louisiana are still down,” Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey told Reuters. “Once the electricity is restored we expect our facilities will be able to start up quickly because we’ve seen little or no damage.”
Enbridge Inc., which operates six pipeline systems in the GOM, planned to lift a force majeure on its UTOS and Stingray pipes at 9 p.m. CDT Thursday. A platform on the 1.12 Bcf/d Stingray sustained minor damage from Gustav; the WC 509 platform needs some repairs, which are expected to be completed in one or two days. The Nautilus and Manta Ray pipe systems could return to service on Saturday, but Enbridge did not indicate when its Mississippi Canyon and Garden Banks systems would be operational.
Destin Pipeline Co LLC, which has the capacity to carry up to 1.2 Bcf/d from offshore production areas, said Thursday that an initial assessment of its offshore facilities showed no significant damage. However, because of power outages the pipeline said it remained unable to accept gas from offshore points. Destin stated in a website posting that its onshore receipt and delivery points remained in operation.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which operates several offshore facilities including the Independence Hub deepwater gas platform for Enterprise, also reported finding “minimal damage” to its platforms so far. Enterprise owns and operates the Independence Trail pipeline, which carries the hub’s gas to shore.
Shell Oil Co. had redeployed more than 200 personnel late Wednesday to most of its production and drilling assets in the GOM and expected to redeploy most of the rest of its offshore crews on Thursday. Other operators also were restaffing their facilities with plans to restart as soon as complete assessments are done — and power is restarted onshore.
“Power and communications were either on or restored at these locations,” Shell stated. “Restart and production ramp-up procedures were expected to start “possibly” Thursday and into the weekend. “Timing of production ramp up at each facility will vary.” Complete GOM production ramp ups could take “a total of three to five days, assuming no issues with downstream infrastructure.”
Gulfport Energy Corp., an independent that drills along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, said its West Cote Blanche Bay facilities “appear to be intact with no structural or other major damage from Hurricane Gustav. The field is ready to begin startup operations; however, the exact timing of the restart of production will be determined primarily by the availability of necessary third-party services.”
Meanwhile, Gulf Island Fabrication Inc. said it sustained “very minimal damage” at its Houma, LA, facilities, which fabricate offshore drilling and production platforms. Gulf Island said Houma officials were to allow residents to return to the area beginning Friday. “As utility services, such as electric power, water and natural gas is restored to the area, office and essential yard personnel will begin performing various tasks to return the corporate headquarters and all the company’s operating facilities…to pre-Hurricane Gustav operations.”
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