Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico continue to restore production following Tropical Storm Isaac. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Hurricane Response Team is activated and monitoring the operators’ activities. The team will continue to work with offshore operators and other state and federal agencies until operations return to normal. Oil and gas operators continue to assess their facilities and are submitting damage reports to BSEE as required. Reports continue to indicate mainly minor damage.
Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 a.m. CDT September 5, personnel remain evacuated on a total of 18 production platforms, equivalent to 3.02 percent of the 596 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Personnel remain evacuated from one rig, equivalent to 1.32 percent of the 76 rigs currently operating in the Gulf.
Shut-in procedure activated
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 percent 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 49.33 percent of the current daily oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. It is also estimated that approximately 25.71 percent of the current daily natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. 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. The remaining shut-in oil and gas production has been slow to return due to damage at onshore processing facilities.
Facilities under inspection
Offshore oil and gas facilities are currently being 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.