Gulf of Mexico Workers Return to Platforms After Karen Weakens

Gulf of Mexico oil producers including BP Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. returned workers to offshore platforms after the passing of Tropical Storm Karen.

The remnants of Karen were over southeastern Alabama, extending southward over the waters of the north-central Gulf, the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin at 8 p.m. eastern time yesterday. The disturbance was moving eastward at about 15 miles (24 kilometers) per hour with almost no chance of reforming into a storm, the center said.

Before Karen was downgraded, the approach of the storm shut almost 62 percent of Gulf oil production, some 866,000 barrels of oil per day, and 48 percent of natural gas output, or 1.8 billion cubic feet daily, as of yesterday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Those numbers were cut today as workers returned to their platforms.

BHP was resuming normal operations as it returned workers to platforms, the company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. was also moving staff back, the company said. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port planned to resume tanker loadings, Barbara Hestermann, a spokeswoman, said by e-mail. LOOP, the only U.S. port capable of offloading ultra-large crude carriers, had suspended tanker operations, the Covington, Louisiana-based company said on its website.

Destin Pipeline had personnel on its MP260 platform who were completing assessment and recovery operations, according to a notice on its website. It said earlier it may end a force majeure in the next 12 to 24 hours. BP oil and natural gas production remained shut in as the company worked to confirm platforms were able to operate safely.

Enbridge’s Manta Ray system was preparing to return to service, the company said yesterday in a notice. The company ended a force majeure for its Mississippi Canyon gas pipeline on Oct. 5, at which time another notice said workers returned to the Garden Banks gas pipeline today. The Nautilus system was accepting nominations yesterday, the company’s site showed. Marathon Oil Corp. returned workers to its Ewing Bank site.

Chevron Corp.’s 330,000-barrel-a-day Pascagoula, Mississippi refinery was back to normal, the company said yesterday. Royal Dutch Shell Plc had cut rates at its 85,000 barrel-a-day plant in Mobile, Alabama, and Motiva Enterprises LLC reduced output at the 250,000 barrel-a-day Norco, Louisiana, refinery due to delays caused by Karen.

Karen was the 11th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season that began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

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