Hurricane Ike continues feeding on warm Gulf waters as it makes its way to Texas, possibly hitting the Texas coast Saturday morning. Tropical storm conditions may reach the mid to upper Texas coast by late Friday morning.
Transport helicopters have been doing a brisk business — first with Hurricane Gustav, and now with Hurricane Ike — removing personnel from oil drilling rigs and production platforms. Evacuation costs for 100 workers on a deepwater drilling rig can cost as much $250,000.
Shell began evacuating 193 offshore personnel on Tuesday and the remaining 47 came ashore Wednesday. Shell-operated production will be shut-in with the exception of natural gas from the Fairway Field in the Mobile Bay area. Redeployment is expected to start as early as Friday in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, stretching westward through the weekend, weather permitting. Other oil and natural gas drillers and producers have also been evacuating personnel including BP, Transocean and Rowan Companies.
About 80 per cent of oil production and 70 per cent of natural gas production in the Gulf remains shut in following Hurricane Gustav. Four refineries in Louisiana remain shut down because of Gustav. Chevron has warehouses in Louisiana and Alabama stocked with generators to help keep gas stations open for business in storm-hit areas. Stations along key evacuation routes have been stocking up on additional fuel supplies to meet coming demand. Motiva says its terminals in Texas are stocked at safety levels.
The Energy Department says crude oil inventories dropped sharply for the second time last week and gasoline stockpiles also plunged. Much of the declines were linked to prolonged shutdowns after Hurricane Gustav barreled through the Gulf of Mexico. Most companies report their facilities experienced little damage from the storm.
Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.