Hurricane Harvey, upgraded to category 1 status just before noon Thursday, is forecast to reach category 3 with winds up to 115 mph before it reaches the mid-Texas coast late Friday or early Saturday.
Operators in the western Gulf of Mexico including Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell began shutdown and evacuation procedures for oil and gas platforms in the storm’s path. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Hurricane Response Team is activated and monitoring the operators’ activities.
Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 CDT today, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 39 production platforms, 5.29% of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, BSEE said.
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 Gulf.
From operator reports, 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 bbls. per day. It is also estimated that approximately 14.66% of the natural gas production, or 472 million cubic feet per day in the Gulf of Mexico, has been shut-in.
On shore, refiners in Texas – the processing point for about a third of the nation’s petroleum products – were likewise preparing for extended storm and flooding conditions.
As a result, U.S. gasoline prices hit a three-week high today as Harvey threatened hit the oil refineries along the Texas coast.
Harvey could cause prolonged supply disruptions, with the storm expected to linger over land for days. The National Hurricane Center warned of “life threatening” storm surges and flooding, and predicted rainfall totals could be 10” to 20” with even 30” in isolated areas.
At 4 p.m. CDT, reconnaissance aircraft located the eye of Harvey near latitude 24.7 north longitude 93.9 west, moving toward the north-northwest near 10 mph. The track was expected to turn toward the northwest later Thursday, and the forward speed to slow.
The hurricane will approach the mid-Texas coast on Friday and make landfall Friday night or early Saturday, then stall near the middle Texas coast through the weekend, NHC forecasters said.
Maximum sustained winds seen during the Thursday reconnaissance flights had increased to near 85 mph and rapid strengthening to a major hurricane Friday was expected. Minimum central pressure was 976 mb (28.82 inches).