Although it was still early in the assessment process on Monday, there was only one report of “minimal” damage to a Gulf of Mexico production facility in the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis, which forced the evacuation of 359 manned platforms and 86 rigs, according to the Minerals Management Service (MMS). After receiving information from 55 companies, MMS said that as of 11 a.m. (CDT) Monday production shut-ins totaled 6.2 Bcf/d of gas and 1.4 million bbl/d of oil.
MMS spokeswoman Caryl Fagot said the agency expected those production shut-in totals to fall sharply on Tuesday. She also said the oil production total was “double-checked” after officials noted that it represented 96% of the total Gulf crude oil production. “That’s what the producers reported to us, so we don’t expect a correction,” she said.
The total gas production shut in was the equivalent of only 62% of the total Gulf gas production, said MMS. As of Monday morning, Dennis had forced Gulf producers to shut in a cumulative total of 18.12 Bcf of gas and 4.04 million bbl of oil.
Fagot said the MMS had not received any reports of damage to production facilities so far. However, Devon Energy Corp. reported that it found “minimal” damage to its Main Pass 255/259 production facility about 150 miles southeast of New Orleans. Spokesman Brian Engel said the damage was to above-surface equipment. He said the company would be conducting an underwater assessment soon. Devon was not reporting production shut-in information.
Meanwhile, other producers were rapidly repopulating offshore facilities Monday and attempting to bring production back to normal. Dennis was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday morning and appeared likely to stall over the lower Ohio Valley after dumping up to 6 inches of rain in parts of Alabama and as much as 9 inches in parts of Georgia, and cutting power to more than 680,000 customers in four states.
Although Dennis made landfall near Pensacola, FL, as a Category Three hurricane, it appears to have packed far less punch than Hurricane Ivan last year. “It was a pretty quick turnaround all in all,” said Apache Corp. spokesman Dave Higgins. “Dennis wasn’t Ivan. But we don’t have any sense yet whether there was any damage or whether any shut ins might be prolonged. Dennis was a smaller storm than Ivan and it hit farther east.”
Higgins noted that the western edge of the hurricane only grazed most of the offshore infrastructure. “If there’s no damage, I would expect everything to be back online by the end of the week.”
Apache said it shut in 465 MMcf/d of its 650 MMcf/d of Gulf gas production and 90% of its 65,000 bbl/d of Gulf oil production. About 495 Apache employees were evacuated while about 160 employees remained on facilities in the western Gulf. As of Sunday afternoon, Apache began transporting personnel back out to platforms.
“This morning in earnest we have been moving people back out, and we expect we will have about 90% of our platforms repopulated later today or early tomorrow,” Higgins said.
ExxonMobil said it shut in half of its Gulf of Mexico oil production and two-thirds of its Gulf natural gas production because of Dennis. In total about 40,000 bb/d of oil and 780 MMcf/d of ExxonMobil’s production in the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico was shut in, and all personnel in those areas were evacuated.
Shell said it had shut in 460,000 bb/d of oil production and 1.4 Bcf/d of natural gas output ahead of the hurricane, and Chevron reported that it began returning workers to Gulf oil fields and platforms, and expected crude oil and natural gas production to resume early this week. Chevron evacuated about 1,000 workers and shut in about 100 MMcf/d of gas production and 10,000 bbl/d of crude oil production.
Kerr-McGee said 55,000 boe/d of its gross production was shut in at its Neptune, Main Pass, Breton Sound and Central Shelf facilities. A total of 110 employees were evacuated.
Pipeline companies also provided information on peak shut-ins during the worst of the hurricane. However, most said gas flows were slowly coming back online. Williams spokesman Chris Stockton said gas shut-ins peaked Sunday at about 800 MMcf/d on Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line and 400 MMcf/d on Gulfstream Natural Gas System, which delivers gas from Mobile Bay to the Florida peninsula. Stockton said there was no damage to either pipeline system and the company expects production to slowly return to normal this week. He said all Transco and Gulfstream pipeline customers were “kept whole.”
El Paso’s Southern Natural reported that a little more than 400 MMcf/d was still shut in upstream of the Toca compression station. “Despite the significant reduction in flowing supply, system inventory currently is stable at acceptable levels,” Southern said in a notice. Southern said field personnel soon would begin an assessment of facilities to determine whether any damage was sustained during the hurricane. “At this time, we are uncertain how long the assessment will take, particularly in offshore areas. However, if any damage is identified that will impact service, we will provide an update via a posting on SoNet Premier’s Critical Notices Bulletin Board and via recorded message at (800) 315-0575.”
Southern’s sister pipeline, Tennessee Gas, had 700 MMcf/d shut in on the 500 Line, but those supplies were made up by using stored gas or rerouting gas from other pipelines, a spokesman said. There were no delivery curtailments, and both Tennessee and Southern expect producers to have most if not all of their shut-in supplies back online by either late today or Tuesday.
John Barnett of Panhandle Energy said Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) was almost back to full volumes Monday. He also said that Trunkline is accepting offshore nominations. It’s up to the individual shipper to verify that gas is flowing at the nominated receipt point. Both Sea Robin and Trunkline were down about 300 MMcf/d this weekend. Barnett said he was not aware of any service curtailments. He also said neither FGT nor Trunkline suffered any damage.
And Gretchen Krueger of Duke Energy reported that Texas Eastern was down about 400,000 Dth/d at the peak of shut-ins.
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