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Oil and gas production shut in as Gulf coast prepares for Zeta

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Cone of prediction issued by National Hurricane Center at 10.00 A.M. October 28

In an advisory issued at 10.00 a.m. CDT this morning, the National Hurricane Center warned that Hurricane Zeta, the 27th named storm of the current hurricane season, is expected to produce a life-threatening storm surge along portions of the northern Gulf Coast beginning later today, with the highest inundation occurring between Port Fourchon, La., and Dauphin Island, Ala.

Zeta is expected to make landfall this afternoon as a strong Category 1 or a weak Category 2 hurricane, with the center of the storm expected to be over New Orleans by 7.00 p.m.


The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has activated its Hurricane Response Team.

Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 CDT yesterday, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 154 production platforms, 23.95 percent of the 643 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Personnel had been evacuated from three rigs (non-dynamically positioned), equivalent to 30 percent of the 10 rigs of this type currently operating in the Gulf. A total of nine dynamically positioned rigs had moved off location out of the hurricane’s projected path as a precaution.

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, as of yesterday, approximately 49.45% of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico had been shut-in, as had approximately 55.35% of natural gas production.

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