Isaac Shuts Oil, Gas Production; Could Ease Drought

by | Aug 28, 2012

More than three-fourths of daily oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut in as Tropical Storm Isaac bears down on the coast and threatens to make landfall as a hurricane, which could produce flooding and storm surges in Louisiana and Florida.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Monday said offshore oil and gas operators including BP and ConocoPhillips have been evacuated from 346 production platforms, about 58 percent of the 596 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The US Energy Department said more than 1 million barrels per day of crude oil production has been shut in, equivalent to 78 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s crude production.

Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66 and Valero also said they were shutting down refineries in Louisiana. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest port of entry for crude coming into the US, suspended tanker unloading, the DOE said. The Capline crude oil pipeline, which has a capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day and transports oil to refineries in the Midwest, also was shut down Monday, the DOE said.

Governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama all declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, which could hit New Orleans on the seven-year anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, Reuters reported. President Obama also declared a state of emergency, a designation that makes federal funding available for emergency activities related to the storm.

The storm prompted airlines to cancel flights to New Orleans and forced the GOP to scrap virtually all of the events on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. The convention’s first session lasted barely a minute, just long enough for the party’s chairman to declare the convention open, the Associated Press reported.

The storm could bring up to five inches of rain to the drought-stricken Midwest, delivering mixed results to farmers there. The moisture will be too late for corn and soybeans, which have been heavily damaged by the drought this summer, but in time for wheat planting next month, Reuters reported. Earlier this month, the USDA designated 33 additional counties in eight states as natural disaster areas – 23 counties due to drought.

The worst US drought in five decades has pushed the global food price index up six percent in July, according to a report released this month by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

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