US Gulf storm strengthening but seen as little threat to oil and gas operations

18 Jun 2021

London (Quantum Commodity Intelligence) – Tropical storm warnings have been put in place for the eastern US Gulf states of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida with what is currently labeled Potential Tropical Cyclone (PTC) Three expected to make weekend landfall, bringing heavy rains and potential flooding.

"Tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours," said the National Hurricane Center Friday.

The NHC reported current winds at around 30-35 miles per hour, but sees “slow strengthening until landfall.”

Should PTC Three intensify into a tropical storm – with winds of 39 to 73 mph -- it will earn the name Claudette, the third named storm of the 2021 season. 

However, based on current forecasts, PTC Three is highly unlikely to impact any onshore oil and gas facilities.

Oil companies with facilities in the area were monitoring the situation closely, but no operational disruption was imminent.

"In preparation for the tropical weather, we have transported all non-essential personnel from our Chevron-operated Big Foot, Jack / St. Malo, and Tahiti platforms. All personnel on our Genesis facility have also been moved onshore," Chevron spokesperson Tyler Kruzich told Quantum.

"Production was temporarily shut-in at our Jack / St. Malo and Tahiti platforms; both facilities are expected to return to full production this weekend. Production at our other Chevron-operated Gulf of Mexico assets remains at normal levels," added Kruzich.

"We are closely monitoring. Our operations are normal," said an Exxon spokesperson.

"Occidental is carefully tracking the storm as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico. All of our facilities have plans to prepare for weather-related events and are implementing those procedures," said the company.

BP, Shell and Valero were also contacted but had not responded by time of press.

Of the three states under storm warning only Louisiana has refining capacity, but forecasts of moderately strong winds and heavy rain are not seen as any threat to operations.  

Lively 2021 storm season

In May the US government agency, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, forecasted another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2021.

Forecasters predicted a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.

However, the report said weather experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. 

The 2020 hurricane season had a devastating impact on the oil and gas sector, with storms like Marco, Laura and Sally ripping through the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall along the US Gulf coast, which hosts much of the US oil and gas infrastructure.

The Atlantic hurricane season is now a familiar fixture in the energy trading calendar, with price volatility impacting global oil and gas markets.