Companies start the return to the Gulf

The oil and gas industry is getting ready to return to the Gulf of Mexico later today to see how its offshore production equipment did during Tropical Storm Ida.

Tourists photograph the sunrise as Tropical Storm Ida makes landfall along the Alabama Gulf Coast in Gulf Shores, Ala. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Shell says its drilling and producing operations in the Gulf “are returning to normal. There was no significant damage to any Shell operated facilities. The minimal Shell operated production shut in on Monday will resume today as downstream operators return personnel to their facilities.”
Anadarko said this morning it is “in the process of assessing our facilities and anticipate returning personnel to our operated platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and tomorrow. We will begin ramping up production as quickly and safely as possible, and as third-party infrastructure allows.”
Anadarko evacuated and shut in production at four operated facilities — Independence Hub, Constitution, Marco Polo and Neptune — and one non-operated facility — Blind Faith. These units produced about 105,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day pre-storm.
As we reported in today’s paper the MMS will likely report a doubling of the amount of oil and gas production shut-in due to the storm when it issues its daily update in the afternoon. But Weather Insight Chief Meteorologist Aaron Studwell told us he doesn’t think the production will be offline for long given the weakness of the storm.
Some reader comments on our story speculate the industry was shutting-in production and pulling people off rigs as an excuse to create a bit of upward pressure on oil and gas prices. The armchair analysts might want to consider a few items, however:

• oil and natural gas storage levels are pretty high right now, so it will take more than a few days of slower production to really change market prices significantly.

• any gains made by higher prices move would have to offset the lost revenue from lower production.

• it’s not cheap to move people on and off rigs.

• hanging out on a platform during a storm, even if it’s not a full-fledged hurricane, could be a bit dangerous. Firms would likely catch flak for leaving people in harms way (we’ve already received e-mails saying companies didn’t do enough).
Here’s the video from the Coast Guard’s rescue of two Chevron workers early Monday morning. The wind and waves don’t seem all that bad in the video but it’s not the kind of trip you want to make unless you have to.