As Hurricane Katrina slammed through the Gulf of Mexico, energy companies evacuated offshore workers and shut about 91 percent of the region's oil production, or 1.37 million barrels daily, according to a Bloomberg report
Katrina ripped drilling rigs from moorings, damaged production platforms and curtailed pipeline shipments, idling 11 percent of U.S. refining capacity and leaving oil supplies vulnerable to another crisis. In turn, the crisis is prohibiting the companies to assess damage to the 819 staffed production platforms and 137 drilling rigs off Louisiana and Texas.
``This hurricane caused catastrophic devastation,'' the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement on its Web site. According to the Bloomberg report, reportedly five oil rigs from the West Delta Platform are missing, one submersible rig is grounded, two mobile offshore drilling units are adrift, two semi- submersibles are listing, and the Mars platform owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RYDAF)
is severely damaged.
Drilling rigs were adrift following the storm. Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. found its Ocean Warwick rig 66 miles off site, grounded on Alabama's Dauphin Island. Another Diamond rig drifted 9 miles from its pre-storm location. Houston-based Rowan Cos. said one of its 22 Gulf rigs may have sunk.
Shell's Mars facility has a production capacity of about 220,000 barrels of oil a day and 220 million cubic feet of natural gas, according to Shell. The West Delta-143 facility handles production from the Mars and Ursa platforms, capable of pumping as much as 450,000 barrels of oil and 700 million cubic feet of gas a day, Shell's Web site said.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which normally handles about 11 percent of U.S. oil imports, was trying to unload a tanker late yesterday at its platform about 20 miles off the Louisiana coast. The port, which was shut because of the storm, resumed shipping oil to an Exxon Mobil (XOM)
refinery in Baton Rouge, according to the Bloomberg report.