Offshore evacuation begins as major storms threaten the Gulf of Mexico

By Phaedra Friend Troy

There are currently two major storms threatening the Gulf of Mexico. While one is strengthening in the Bay of Campeche, the other is organizing near the Dominican Republic. Both are threatening offshore oil and gas exploration and production operations.

Located about 790 miles southeast of Miami, Tropical Disturbance 22 is moving to the west-northwest at about 10 miles per hour, reported global weather authority ImpactWeather.

“As it enters the Gulf of Mexico, the storm is expected to take more of a northwesterly turn, and it looks to make landfall between the mouth of the Mississippi and the Big Bend Florida region by Sunday evening,” reported ImpactWeather meteorologist Lauren Whisenhunt on PennEnergy’s Global Offshore Weather Report for the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Disturbance 22 has a 100 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. The advisory expects to upgrade the storm into Tropical Storm Bonnie Thursday morning.

Storm Heads for Oil and Gas Operations

“It looks like thunderstorm squalls will affect the deepwater lease areas southeast of Louisiana as early as Saturday,” Whisenhunt advised.

In preparation for this storm, major producer Shell (NYSE: RDS-A, RDS-B) has begun evacuating non-essential personnel from its deepwater drilling and production operations in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The company revealed that it would begin offshore evacuations Thursday.

Also in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, a storm packer has been installed on the first relief well being drilled to kill the blown-out Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252. The storm packer is a plug deployed 300 feet below the BOP of the Development Driller III.

Storm in the Bay of Campeche

Furthermore, Tropical Disturbance 21 is an area of showers and thunderstorms that is showing signs of organization in the Bay of Campeche offshore Mexico. The storm is moving toward the west at a rate of 10 to 15 miles per hour.

There is a 50 percent chance that this storm will strengthen into a tropical cyclone before it makes landfall on the coast of Mexico within the next day or two, reports the National Hurricane Center.

Mexican state-owned Pemex has myriad offshore installations in the Bay of Campeche, which is a prolific hydrocarbon-producing region.

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has been forecasted to be “extremely active” with 23 named storms expected, of which 14 are predicted to strengthen into hurricanes. 

Look to PennEnergy’s Global Offshore Weather Report daily to find out the most up-to-date information about this storm, as well as wind, weather and wave information for the four busiest offshore regions worldwide.

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