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Thursday AM September 4th, 2008

image of oil rig in GulfInitial observations indicate that Hurricane Gustav didn’t cause much damage to oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico. Ed Mayberry reports.


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The U.S. Minerals Management Service says virtually all oil and natural gas production remains shut down in the Gulf. Having evaluated offshore damage by air, drillers and producers are now deploying initial crews to their rigs and platforms. Ramping up a facility safely requires the mirror-opposite steps of shutting down safely, according to Shell Oil’s Frank Glaviano.

“When we do shut down and evacuate, we usually get down to about 16 people — which is what a helicopter can hold, our big helicopters — that can maintain operation. And so when we redeploy, we simply reverse that process and get the 16 most critical people out there. But the first people that land — their immediate job is to establish electric generation — power generation and then to establish communications with the shore base.”

Pipelines that bring crude oil and natural gas from offshore installations have been shut down because of lack of power, but emergency generators are being put into place. Glaviano says ramping up production isn’t as easy as throwing a switch.

“Generally, it takes us three to five days to re-establish production fully. It varies from location to location. We get, some places we get, you know, some of the production very quickly. In others, it takes a little time. Some of the wells require a little more, more of a procedure to get them to flow. But generally that’s the time frame we talk about, is three to five days to fully re-establish production.”

Without serious damage, oil and natural gas facilities should start up again in a day or two, and coastal refineries could resume production by the end of the week.

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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