HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc, the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, was shutting in all of its oil and gas offshore platforms on Sunday as Tropical Storm Debby was forecast to make a sharp turn later this week into the heart of the U.S. offshore oil patch.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the single location where the largest oil tanker ships can directly deliver crude, stopped offloading tankers on Sunday morning, as rough seas were building at its sea terminal. The LOOP continued delivers to Gulf Coast refiners from underground storage caverns onshore.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc stopped production on some of its platforms and was preparing for further shutdowns in the central, western Gulf.
Other producers were performing evacuations of workers from the Gulf on Sunday. The Gulf accounts for about 20 percent of U.S. oil production and 6 percent of natural gas output.
The forecast for Debby has changed drastically in the past few days. On Friday, as Debby was forming off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the storm was expected to just skirt the eastern edge of U.S.-regulated Gulf oil and natural gas production areas before heading for Florida.
By Sunday, the forecast had shifted and Debby was expected to hit southeast Louisiana by sometime Wednesday as a hurricane.
As of midday Saturday, only a fraction of the basin's output was shut in: 7.8 percent of daily oil and 8.16 percent of daily natural gas output, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which oversees oil and gas activity in the Gulf.
A new update is scheduled for early Sunday afternoon.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and Marguerita Choy)