MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The first tropical storm of the North Atlantic hurricane season formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday but looked set to spare Mexico's oilfields from a direct hit.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour and was located about 240 miles east of Tuxpan in Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Mexico is a top oil exporter to the United States and almost all of its crude oil exports are shipped to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the United States from the three Gulf of Mexico ports, Dos Bocas, Cayo Arcas and Coatzacoalcos.
Outer bands of rain could cause brief closures of those ports, but the center's model showed Arlene hitting further north on Thursday, possibly grazing one coastal oil well near the city of Tampico but avoiding offshore platforms.
Mexico's Pemex is the world's No. 7 oil producer.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott in Monterrey, Editiny by Sandra Maler)