Here we go again… Offshore platform evacuations begin *updates*

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

The emergence of Tropical Storm Nate as a possible threat to the northern Gulf of Mexico has caused BP to begin to evacuate crews from some offshore platforms, just days after the company were remanned platforms in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee.

BP, the top producer in the Gulf, said it has started to remove non-essential workers from some of its deepwater platforms, including workers from the Atlantis, Holstein and Mad Dog platforms, in the Green Canyon area of the Gulf.

Operations closer to shore and further to the East will continue as the company monitors the storm, BP said in a recorded statement.

Apache Corp. is also evacuating non-essential personnel from facilities in the far western Gulf of Mexico, said a spokesman, but there is no impact on production at this time.

Shell, the No. 2 producer in the Gulf, is continuing to monitor the storm but has not begun evacuations, according to a spokeswoman.

An ExxonMobil spokesman said the company is also just monitoring the storm.

“It appears that some of the more attention-deserving models the industry relies on have trended more bullish for the impacts of Nate,” says Travis Hartman, Energy Weather Manager and Meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.

“Warm waters, low shear, and the possibility of an incoming trough, which would pull the system northward, are all combining to set the stage for a potential Producing Region impact,” Hartman said, but there are still models that show the storm going into Mexico and avoiding major U.S. production areas completely.

At the height of Tropical Storm Lee’s impact, more than 60 percent of the Gulf’s oil production and 40 percent of the natural gas production was offline, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

As of Thursday afternoon BOEMRE said 14.8 percent of the current oil production in the Gulf and 6.8 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in. The bureau said five of the 617 manned production platforms and two of the 70 drilling rigs were still evacuated.