Evacuations start ahead of U.S. Gulf weather system

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 22, 2012 2:00 PM
Evacuations start ahead of U.S. Gulf weather system

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Some companies began evacuating non-essential workers from their U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas operations on Friday as a low-pressure system just north of the Yucatan Peninsula had a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days.

Murphy Oil Corp said it was evacuating non-essential personnel while monitoring the system, but there had been no impact on operations. The company operates three oil and gas platforms in the Gulf.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only deepwater port in the U.S. also was evacuating non-essential workers from its operations about 20 miles offshore, but operations were normal, spokesman Barb Hesterman said.

"We're offloading ships as we speak," she said about midday on Friday. We have some maintenance work going on that we'd bring people in for."

The National Weather Service said interests along the U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor the weather system's progress over the weekend. Most early computer runs show the system heading east toward Florida.

About 6 percent of U.S. natural gas and just over 20 percent of U.S. oil output comes from the Gulf.

(Reporting By Kristen Hays; Editing by Marguerita Choy)