The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Hurricane Response Team is continuing to monitor offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico as they evacuate platforms and rigs in preparation for the northward movement of Hurricane Michael in the eastern Gulf today and tomorrow. The team works with offshore operators and other state and federal agencies until operations return to normal and the storm is no longer a threat to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas activities.
Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 a.m. CDT today, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 75 production platforms, 10.9% of the 687 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Production platforms are the structures located offshore from which oil and natural gas are produced. Unlike drilling rigs which typically move from location to location, production facilities remain in the same location throughout a project’s duration.
Personnel have been evacuated from three rigs (non-dynamically positioned), equivalent to 13.6% of the 22 non-DP rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf. Rigs can include several types of offshore drilling facilities including jackup rigs, platform rigs, all submersibles and moored semisubmersibles.
A total of eight dynamically positioned rigs have moved off location out of the storm’s path as a precaution. This number represents 47.1% of the 17 rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf. Dynamically positioned rigs maintain their location while conducting well operations by using thrusters and propellers, the rigs are not moored to the seafloor. Therefore, they can move off location in a relatively short time frame. Personnel remain on board and return to the location once the storm has passed.
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 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, it is estimated that approximately 39.5 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. It is also estimated that approximately 28.4 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. The production percentages are calculated using information submitted by offshore operators in daily reports. Shut-in production information included in these reports is based on the amount of oil and gas the operator expected to produce that day. The shut-in production figures therefore are estimates, which BSEE compares to historical production reports to ensure the estimates follow a logical pattern.
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. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back on line. BSEE will continue to update the evacuation and shut-in statistics at 1:00 p.m. CDT each day as appropriate.
This survey information is reflective of 27 companies’ reports as of 11:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday.