Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

How Hurricane Isaac Could Affect Gulf Drilling and the Texas Coast

Map by Accuweather

Hurricane Isaac could have a significant impact on drilling in the Gulf.

Updated: Sometime Tuesday, Hurricane Isaac could bring significant weather conditions to more than a thousand drilling rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil prices are already on the rise.

As you can see in the map to the right by Accuweather, there are several Gulf drilling regions that are under a “high” or “moderate” threat by the storm. “While currently a tropical storm, Isaac is a storm that should not be taken lightly,” Accuweather cautions.

Some drilling platforms have already been evacuated, and others may need to be as well. “Current indications point toward waves of 20 to 30 feet (or higher) building in this region of the Gulf as Isaac gains strength and approaches the coast,” Accuweather says in a report today.

The hurricane had already shut-in 78 percent of production in the Gulf as of Monday morning, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Some 346 platforms have been evacuated, over fifty percent of the platforms in the Gulf. And 41 rigs (over fifty percent of the rigs in the Gulf) have been evacuated as well.

The storm could affect much more than just drilling in the Gulf. 

Loren Steffy has more in Fuel Fix:

Meanwhile, Issac’s advance raised fears that the storm could affect pipelines, refineries and tanker deliveries. Gasoline futures climbed to their highest in four months, driven by storm concerns and a refinery explosion in Venezuela that killed 41 people. Fires continued to burn into the third day at the 645,000-barrel-a-day refinery, the world’s second biggest, after a gas leak sparked an explosion early Saturday morning.

Phillips 66 said its temporarily shutting down its 247,000-barrel-a-day Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, La. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port said yesterday it plans to suspend tanker deliveries by Monday afternoon. The LOOP receives about 1 million barrels of foreign crude a day for Gulf Coast refineries.

Photo by STR/AFP/GettyImages

A man runs away from the waves in Gibara, Holguin province, Cuba on August 25, 2012, during tropical storm Isaac.

Right now the Hurricane is projected to hit the shores of Louisiania and Alabama (seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina) as a Category 2, possibly a Category 3, hurricane on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. That means maximum sustained winds between 96 and 110 mph.

Accuweather says that a Category 2 “can cause well-constructed framed homes to sustain significant roof and siding damage. Widespread tree damage is likely, leading to potentially lengthy power outages.” And in a Category 3, “most trees will not be able to withstand the strength of these winds, which threaten to cause more substantial structural roof damage on well-built homes.”

It could also have an impact on the Texas coast, Accuweather warns. “Even those living and vacationing westward to Houston, Texas, should monitor Isaac’s progress. Isaac tracking more toward the northwestern Gulf of Mexico cannot be ruled out and all depends on whether Isaac interacts with a cold front pushing toward the Northeast,” the report says.

You can read more about hurricane preparedness at Ready.gov.


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