The Gulf of Mexico's offshore petroleum industry is far from recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and at least one-sixth of the region's normal daily oil production will still be offline at the start of next storm season, the AP reported.
Katrina and Rita destroyed 115 of the Gulf's 4,000 production platforms and damaged another 52, according to a report released last week by the Minerals Management Service, which manages federal offshore leases. The storms also damaged 183 pipelines, including 64 classified as major. Only 22 had been returned to service. There are about 33,000 miles of petroleum pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico, 22,000 miles of which were exposed to the two storms.
As of this week, 396,000 of the Gulf's normal daily production of 1.5 million barrels of oil were being kept from market because of storm damage, along with 1.8 billion cubic feet of the region's normal daily production of 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Future repair work will be slow.
The report indicates that the Gulf will not be able to provide any immediate relief to consumers from high oil and natural-gas prices. Oil prices have been about $67 a barrel and gas has hovered - after a huge jump in the fall - about $9 a thousand cubic feet.
To quantify the damage caused by the two storms, the MMS said that Hurricane Ivan
in 2004 destroyed only seven production platforms.