NEW ORLEANS —Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are beginning to re-board platforms and rigs following Tropical Storm Lee, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement’s (BOEMRE) Hurricane Response Team.
Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 232 production platforms, equivalent to 37.6 percent of the 617 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Personnel have been evacuated from 24 rigs, equivalent to 34.3 percent of the 70 rigs currently operating in the Gulf.
As part of the evacuation process, 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 the recent hurricane seasons, the shut-in valves functioned 100 percent 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, it is estimated that approximately 61.4 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. It is also estimated that approximately 46 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.
After the hurricane has passed, facilities will be inspected. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back on line immediately.