Storms in the Caribbean Pose Low Threat to Gulf Gas Production

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A low-pressure system in the Caribbean Sea will be a “very low” threat to oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico even if it manages to gain strength, said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC.

The cluster of storms near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical system in the next two days and a 50 percent chance in the next five, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“My feeling is that this system may develop faster than expected today, which will create concern and perhaps trigger some precautionary evacuations,” Rogers said in an e-mail. “But upcoming Yucatan land interaction and high Gulf wind shear should weaken the system before it reaches the production region, keeping the threat of damage/disruption very low.”

Tropical systems in the Gulf can affect oil and natural gas operations for both Mexico and the U.S. The region is home to 23 percent of U.S. crude production, 5.6 percent of gas output and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, according to the Energy Department.

The Bay of Campeche, in the southwestern Gulf, is where Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, has its two largest oil fields. They produce about 1.25 million barrels a day.

Tropical systems tend to lose power when they cross land. Shear, winds that blow at different directions or speeds at varying altitudes, can tear a storm’s structure.

When the emerging system gets into the southern Gulf, it won’t have enough time to gain much strength before it reaches the U.S. coast between Mobile, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle by the weekend, Rogers said.

The hurricane center is also tracking Tropical Storm Jerry with top sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour. It was 1,925 miles west-southwest of the Azores and doesn’t pose an immediate threat to land.

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