BSEE monitors Gulf of Mexico offshore activities in advance of Zeta

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has activated the Hurricane Response Team as Tropical Storm Zeta continued to head towards the Gulf of Mexico today.

The Hurricane Response Team is monitoring offshore oil and gas operators as they evacuate platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in preparation for Zeta. 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 154 production platforms, 23.95% of the 643 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 30% of the 10 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 nine dynamically positioned rigs have moved off location out of the hurricane’s projected path as a precaution. This number represents 56.25% of the 16 DP rigs currently operating in the Gulf. Dynamically positioned rigs maintain their location while conducting well operations by using thrusters and propellers. These 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, effectively shutting in production from wells in the Gulf 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, BSEE estimates that approximately 49.45% of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. BSEE estimates that approximately 55.35% 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 storm has passed, facilities will be inspected. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back online immediately. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back online.

Total

Percentage of GOM

Platforms
Evacuated

154

23.95

Rigs
Evacuated

3

30

DP Rigs Moved-off

9

56.25

Total shut-in

Percentage of GOM Production

Oil, BOPD
Shut-in

914,811

49.45

Gas,
MMCFD Shut-in

1500

55.35

BSEE will continue to update the evacuation and shut-in statistics at 1:00 p.m. CDT each day as appropriate. This survey is reflective of 38 companies’ reports as of 11:30 a.m. CDT today.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

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