Forecasts say that Tropical Storm Gustav could regain hurricane strength and affect major offshore oil and natural gas production areas
in the Gulf of Mexico also portend a significant threat to onshore energy sites
, the Houston Chronicle reported.
As they prepare for a possible hit from Gustav, operators of such facilities hope improvements they made in rebuilding after the 2005 storms will improve their odds of weathering the next one.
Oil futures rose $1.87 to $118.14 a barrel Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas increased 20.7 cents to $8.485 per million British thermal units.
In preparation for the storm, offshore drillers began securing wells, pulling up equipment and bringing workers ashore on Wednesday.
Transocean, the largest offshore drilling contractor, said it was suspending operations at all 11 of its rigs in the Gulf and had started evacuating about 1,550 people. Noble Corp. expected to evacuate about 600 people from its seven Gulf rigs, while Pride International planned to remove 650 people from 10 rigs and three of its customers' production platforms, company officials said. All of those workers should be onshore by Saturday, they said.
Shell Oil said it brought 400 workers ashore on Wednesday, and more than 800 more will be evacuated by Saturday. BP has also said it's bringing nonessential workers ashore.
Source: Houston Chronicle