Threat of another storm and storms past combine to bedevil pipelines

| Friday, October 08, 2004

A storm system in the Gulf of Mexico Friday, Oct. 8, led companies to stop repair projects on hundreds of offshore platforms that had been shut down by damage from Hurricane Ivan, the Houston Chronicle reported.

And Louisiana Offshore Oil Port officials told the Oil Production Information Service that offloading of crude oil tankers was suspended at 4 a.m. Oct. 8, and will likely remain on hold until Oct. 10.

The cause is a broad low-pressure area that may become a tropical storm. Hurricane hunter planes will be flying into the disturbance to assess the storm, but Louisiana Offshore Oil Port officials have already said that rough seas have forced them to suspend offloading.

LOOP is still trying to recover from the total of seven days it was closed due to Ivan last month. Oil port officials have said it would take all of October to offload the backlog of crude ships currently parked in the Gulf of Mexico and slated to arrive this month.

Meanwhile, nearly 28 percent of oil production and 15 percent of natural gas production remains shut, according to the Minerals Management Service. Average daily U.S. oil production in September hit its lowest point since the 1950s, at 5.03 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Agency.

Rick Mercier, director of the Offshore Technology Research Center at Texas A&M University, says most offshore production facilities are coming back on line at a predictable pace, but there has been more damage to undersea pipelines than expected.

He said production facilities are getting back on line, but the pipelines to get that production onshore experienced “more leaks than expected.”