Energy firms prepare to resume U.S. Gulf of Mexico output after storm passes


HOUSTON (Reuters) – Energy companies on Monday began preparations to resume oil and gas production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, a day after Tropical Storm Cristobal blew through with high winds and heavy rains.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Royal Dutch Shell is seen at a petrol station in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Producers had evacuated 182 offshore facilities and shut in about a third of oil and gas production in U.S. Gulf of Mexico wells as of Monday.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Murphy Oil Corp and BP Plc were among the companies that said on Monday they were starting to resume normal operations and return workers to offshore facilities.

Energy companies typically inspect platforms after a storm passes and return evacuated workers once it is safe to do so.

U.S. Gulf Coast spot gasoline prices strengthened slightly on Monday, traders said, up 0.25 cent per gallon from Friday.

Cristobal has weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall in Louisiana on Sunday with 50 mile-per-hour (80 kph)winds. It led producers to shut 34% of oil and 35% of gas output in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore regulator Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. The region provides about 1.93 million bpd of oil.

Exxon Mobil Corp, Shell and PBF Energy Inc kept their oil refineries in Louisiana in operation as Cristobal hit over the weekend, people familiar with the operations said.

PBF declined to comment. Exxon and Shell were not immediately available to comment.

Exxon’s 502,500 bpd Baton Rouge, PBF’s 190,000 bpd Chalmette and Shell’s 225,300 bpd Norco, Louisiana, refineries were operating normally on Monday, the sources said.

The storm was 15 miles (30 km) east of Monroe, Louisiana, at 10 a.m. on Monday and dropping up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) of rain on central and eastern Gulf Coast areas. It should move through Arkansas and Missouri on Monday and Tuesday, U.S. National Hurricane Center forecasters said.

Reporting by Erwin Seba and Jennifer Hiller in Houston, Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Matthew Lewis and Dan Grebler

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