HOUSTON (Reuters) – U.S. oil and gas companies scrambled to restart offshore operations on Thursday as the extent of damage from Hurricane Ida became more apparent.
Ida’s winds of 240 km / h (150 miles per hour) dealt a direct blow to the country’s energy infrastructure. About 80% of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil and gas production went offline in hundreds of rigs and rigs as energy companies struggled to conduct aerial surveys and fire workers due to the damage. caused at land terminals and base sites.
A few companies, including BHP and Murphy Oil, have taken the first steps to restart offshore production. But they were in the minority. Only 39 of the 288 platforms evacuated last week had received new crews on Wednesday, according to the US Bureau of Environmental Safety and Enforcement.
Some pipelines and petroleum processing facilities have been able to resume operations. But most were hampered by power outages, lack of supply and damage from strong winds. Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a vital center for offshore logistics, has been cut off from power and water and its roads have been closed to everyone except emergency vehicles.
“The region is completely devastated,” said Tony Odak, COO of Stone Oil Distributor, a major fuel supplier to the offshore industry. His company was relocating certain activities to western Louisiana as part of its recovery plan.
The severity of the storm was evidenced by damage to a drillship that was tossed about by Ida winds. The shaken crew of Noble Corp’s Globetrotter II called for help from the U.S. Coast Guard, who said they had sent a cutter and plane to escort the ship to port.
More than two dozen tankers supposed to unload imported crude for Louisiana refineries or load oil for exports anticipate delays, according to tanker tracking data and shipping sources.
Seven oil refineries that produce gasoline and other fuels could be out of service for up to four weeks due to a lack of electricity and water. The storm destroyed factories in southeast Louisiana operated by Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, Valero Energy and PBF Energy.
“Like everyone else, we are awaiting the results of the utility’s damage assessment and its grid reactivation plans,” said Michael Karlovich, spokesperson for PBF Energy, which has shut down its 190,000 barrels per day at Chalmette, Louisiana. , refinery on Sunday.
Refinery operators who have safely idled facilities before the storm face the dangerous and delicate task of igniting huge boilers and pressurized tanks used to produce fuel.
The production of crude off the Gulf Coast of the United States accounts for about 16% of the daily production of the United States. As of Wednesday, 1.46 million barrels of daily production were offline, along with 1.9 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas production.