More than 80% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico remains shut in after Hurricane Ida, a U.S. regulator said on Monday, more than a week after the storm made landfall and hit critical infrastructure in the region.
Energy companies have been struggling to resume production after Ida damaged platforms and caused onshore power outages. About 1.5 million barrels per day of oil production, or 84%, remains shut, while another 1.8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas output, or 81%, was offline, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.
A total of 99 oil and gas production platforms remain evacuated, down from the 288 originally evacuated.
“The entire region is still struggling with resupply,” said Tony Odak, chief operating officer of Stone Oil Distributor, which supplies fuel to the offshore industry. “The refiners are coming back up slowly, but there is so much infrastructure that needs to be brought back online and inspected as well.”
Five refineries in Louisiana remained shut on Monday, accounting for about 1 million barrels-per-day of refinery capacity, or about 6% of the total U.S. operable refining capacity, the Department of Energy said.
All three refineries in the Baton Rouge area and one near New Orleans have begun to restart, accounting for 1.3 million bpd of refining capacity, DOE said. However, the refiners will not produce at full rates for several days.
Operations remain limited at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) marine terminal, and repairs are under way, DOE said.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the largest U.S. Gulf Coast producer, on Sunday began redeploying staff to its Enchilada and Salsa platforms.
The region is still struggling with power outages, after Ida knocked out power to more than 1 million people last week. As of Monday morning, there were still about 573,000 outages due to Ida, including 568,000 customer outages remaining in Louisiana, DOE said.
The U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday it was investigating nearly 350 reports of oil spills in and along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the storm.
The lower Mississippi River and New Orleans ports were reopened to traffic and cargo operations, allowing the resumption of grain, metal and energy shipments.
Meanwhile, French energy giant Total signed some $27bn worth of oil and gas contracts with Iraq at a time when other big oil companies are looking to exit Iraq’s energy sector…
New Orleans gas prices soar after IDA
The scarcity of fuel throughout Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Ida has generated not only longer lines for the gas pump, but also higher prices when motorists finally reach it.
According to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 415 New Orleans gas stations, prices have soared 15.9 cents higher per gallon in the city over the past week. The city’s average price per gallon of $2.92 is 14.8 cents higher than a month ago and $1.09 higher than a year ago on this date (Sept. 7).
The weekly survey found the cheapest gas in New Orleans to be $2.56 per gallon, while the most expensive found was $3.39 per gallon. Statewide, gas prices this week ranged from $2.53 per gallon to $3.99 per gallon.
“As expected, Hurricane Ida’s disruption to the oil and refining industry led gas prices to rise over the last week,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “With several Louisiana refineries poised to have power restored in the days ahead, the impact on gas prices could soon reverse. And with gasoline demand now likely to decline with the close of the summer driving season, I see the odds rising that gas prices will soon begin a seasonal downturn.”
Despite the price surge in the wake of the Aug. 29 Category 4 storm, New Orleans motorists still are paying less for a gallon of gas than the national average of $3.17.
“By Halloween, we could see the national average back under $3 per gallon,” De Haan said.
At least 350 oil and chemical spills reported in Louisiana waters after Hurricane Ida
The tally of oil and chemical spills in the wake of Hurricane Ida continues to grow, reaching 350 on Monday morning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The reported spills in Louisiana are mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River and have been linked to broken oil wells, damaged oil wells and flooded refineries.
One of the largest incidents was an 11-mile-long oily sheen in Bay Marchand near Port Fourchon that was spotted by the Coast Guard and other federal agencies just after the storm.
Also on Monday, the Coast Guard reported finding another discharge from a wellhead about five miles from the Bay Marchand spill site. The spill produced a sheen about 100 yards long and 100 yards wide.
Oil spill responders are still assessing large sheens surrounding Phillips 66’s Alliance Refinery south of Belle Chasse. The refinery flooded after surging water from Ida broke through a makeshift levee nearby.
“It’s not surprising anymore to have (350) oil spills after a hurricane,” said Scott Eustis, community science director for Healthy Gulf.
Dozens of other environmental threats have been reported in the days after Ida ripped through the state. These include various air pollutants released at chemical plants and flaring at the Shell Norco petrochemical complex in St. Charles Parish, the Chalmette and Valero refineries and other facilities.
Last month, an analysis of industrial data and Ida’s predicted route through the state found 590 sites that produce or store oil and other toxic chemicals were in harm’s way. Almost 380 of them were within 50 miles of the coast, putting them at particular risk from storm surge, strong winds and heavy rain.
Hurricane Katrina caused at least 540 oil spills into Louisiana waters in 2005. The combined 10.8 million gallons of oil spilled equals the amount released during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.
And don’t forget that more than 900,000 people are still waiting for electricity to come back in Louisiana! State of emergency right now! Prepare yourself and be ready for the next disaster! [NOLA, Fox8Live, Yahoo]
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