Tropical Storm Bret expected to miss Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Tropical Storm Bret formed in the Atlantic Ocean and is heading toward the Bahamas, gaining strength in open waters.

Tropical Storm Bret is currently located about 65 miles northwest of Great Abaco Island, with the Bahamas under a tropical storm threat. With maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, the storm is moving to the northeast at a rate of 3 miles per hour.

The National Hurricane Center expects Tropical Storm Bret to take a turn toward the north-northeast later Monday, gradually gaining speed and strength over the next couple of days. 

Currently, the storm is not expected to make landfall along the US mainland, with path predictions showing the storm turning away from the East Coast, reports global weather authority ImpactWeather

Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season, made landfall in central Mexico on June 30. Bret is the second named storm of the season, which is expected to produce more major storms than average. 

The oil and gas industry operating in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and along the Gulf Coast remain prepared for storm threats, ready to evacuate offshore platforms and rigs, as well as shut-in oil and gas production if the facility is in the path of the storm. 

Fortunately, the offshore industry has not yet been affected by the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. 

Although the hurricane season officially begins on June 1, the majority of the storms usually form starting in August. Up to 18 named storms have been predicted for this season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The last storms to have an impact on US oil and gas production were Hermine in early September and Alex in late June of 2010. While Hurricane Ida shut-in production in 2009, the most recent major impact to oil and gas operations in the Gulf was Hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008.

Oil prices usually climb when a major storm threatens Gulf of Mexico installations, coinciding with the increased demand of the summer driving season.

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