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Updated: Harvey leads to shut ins, evacuations in GoM

Written by  Wednesday, 23 August 2017 12:04

Oil and gas operators are preparing for the approach of Tropical Storm Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico, as the US National Hurricane Center warns Harvey could form into a hurricane by Friday. 

Coastal watches/warnings and forecast cone for storm center. Map from NOAA.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Hurricane Response Team has been activated and is monitoring the operators’ activities. 

Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted to BSEE as of 11:30 CST today (24 August), personnel have been evacuated from a total of 39 production platforms, 5.29% of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Personnel have been evacuated from one rig (non-dynamically positioned (DP) rig), equivalent to 10% of the 10 rigs of this type currently operating in the GoM.

As part of the evacuation process, BSEE says personnel activate the applicable shut-in procedure, which can frequently be accomplished from a remote location. This involves closing the sub-surface safety valves located below the surface of the ocean floor to prevent the release of oil or gas. During previous hurricane seasons, the shut-in valves functioned 100% of the time, efficiently shutting in production from wells on the Outer Continental Shelf and protecting the marine and coastal environments. Shutting-in oil and gas production is a standard procedure conducted by industry for safety and environmental reasons.

From operator reports obtained by BSEE, it is estimated that approximately 9.56% of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in, which equates to 167,231 b/d. It is also estimated that approximately 14.66% of the natural gas production, or 472 MMcf/d in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. 

As of 23 August 5 p.m. Houston time, Anadarko evacuated all personnel and has temporarily shut in production from four of its facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, as Tropical Storm Harvey approaches.

The company said that given the potential path of Harvey, it safely removed all personnel and temporarily shut in production at its operated Boomvang, Gunnison, Lucius and Nansen facilities.

"These facilities will remain shut in until the weather has cleared, and it is safe to return our people to these offshore locations. We will continue to track Harvey and are prepared to remove additional personnel and shut in other operated facilities in the Gulf if necessary," Anadarko said.

As of yesterday (23 August) Shell was in the process of evacuating all personnel from its Perdido platform as a precaution, and Exxon was also reducing production at its Hoover facility in the Gulf of Mexico, according to news reports.

The US National Hurricane Center is projecting Harvey to approach the southern Texas coast on Friday. Additional strenghtening is forecast during the next 48 hours, as of today at 7 a.m. CST, and Harvey is expected to become a hurricane by Friday.

On 22 August, Anadarko began removing non-essential personnel working in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are prepared to shut in our facilities and evacuate remaining personnel if necessary to ensure safety and protect the environment,” the company said on 22 August.

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