Some U.S. Gulf oil workers evacuated under storm threat

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 23, 2012 11:15 AM

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Energy companies evacuated some workers from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas operations on Saturday as the first weather system of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season began to disrupt output in the prolific basin.

BP Plc the largest oil and gas producer in the Gulf, said on Saturday the company began evacuating non-essential workers from its energy platforms, but production was unaffected.

Apache Corp and ConocoPhillips did the same, also with output unaffected.

Non-essential workers are those not directly involved in production, such as cooks and cleaning staff.

Other oil and gas producers were monitoring the storm, which had a 90 percent chance of developing into Tropical Storm Debby in the next day or two, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

BHP Billiton on Friday evacuated all workers and shut in production at the two platforms it operates, which have a combined capacity to produce 170,000 barrels per day of oil and 100 million cubic feet of gas.

BP operates seven oil and gas platforms in the U.S. Gulf, including the world's largest, Thunder Horse, which is designed to produce up to 250,000 barrels per day of oil and 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Apache's operations are closer to shore in more shallow waters, while ConocoPhillips operates a single platform with capacity to produce 8,000 bpd of oil and 16 million cubic feet per day of gas.

The Gulf is home to about 20 percent of U.S. oil production and 6 percent of natural gas output.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Jackie Frank)