Petroleum industry braces as Hurricane Alex strengthens before making landfall

By Phaedra Friend Troy 

Strengthening to a Category 2, Hurricane Alex packed winds measuring 100 miles per hour before making landfall Wednesday evening in Northern Mexico.

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 nine busiest offshore regions worldwide.

The storm was downgraded Thursday morning to a tropical storm with winds currently measuring 70 miles per hour and heavy rainfall. Elevated tides of 2 to 4 feet along the Texas coast and 3 to 5 feet along the Mexican coast are present, reports ImpactWeather.

Despite flooding and mild damages, the first major storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season seems to have passed without causing severe problems.

Petroleum Industry Braces for Hurricane Alex

The BOE reported that oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico evacuated offshore facilities in preparation for the storm. Personnel from 74 production platforms and eight drilling rigs were evacuated to safety because of Hurricane Alex.

Additionally 26.33 percent of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut-in due to the storm, while 14.36 percent of the natural gas production was curtailed.

Now that the storm has passed, the BOE will conduct inspections of the rigs and production facilities that were affected by the storm; and if no damaged were sustained, production will quickly be brought back on-line.

With winds, waves and rain still menacing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, no offshore infrastructure damages have been reported yet.

Hurricane Alex’s Affect on the Oil Spill

Because the storm passes well west of the Macondo well and the oil slick, oil spill containment measures were not disrupted at the site. Both drilling rigs continued drilling the relief wells, and the Discoverer Enterprise and Q4000 were able to remain connected to the oil spill containment systems.

Oil spill clean-up efforts, on the other hand, were thwarted by the high winds and waves caused by the hurricane. Oil skimmers were docked, and onshore workers were sidelined by the storm. 

BP is currently working on an oil spill containment system that will better weather oncoming hurricanes, with the first enhancement expected to be deployed any day.

For comprehensive coverage of the Deepwater Horizon incident, oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts under way to resolve them, visit PennEnergy's Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico special section.

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