Gulf of Mexico production ramps up after Isaac

Most of the offshore oil and gas crews evacuated from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Isaac are back on the job, and the storm appears to have caused only minor damage to rigs and platforms, according to initial federal reports.

But more than 800,000 barrels, or about 58 percent, of daily oil production in the Gulf remains offline, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Monday. About 1.7 billion cubic feet, or 39 percent, of daily natural gas production in the Gulf is still shut in.

That’s a significant improvement since last week, when as much as 95 percent of oil production and 72 percent of natural gas production went off line as Isaac barrelled down on the region.

Six rigs and 71 production platforms remain evacuated, less than 8 percent of the rig fleet and about 12 percent of the platforms stationed in the Gulf, according to the BSEE.

Of the 11 Gulf Coast refineries affected by Isaac-related flooding and power outages, one has returned to normal operation and nine others are restarting or operating at reduced rates, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Monday. Only Phillips 66’s refinery in Belle Chasse, La. remains shut down, with a capacity of 247,000 barrels per day.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 23 percent of the United States’ crude oil production. About 43 percent of the nation’s refining capacity is stationed along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coasts.

Gasoline prices, which rose over the past week as Isaac slammed the fuel-producing region, hit a national average of $3.83 per gallon of regular on Monday, according to AAA. That’s up nearly 8 cents from a week ago and up 23 cents from a month ago.

Regular averaged $3.65 Monday in Houston, up 10 cents from a week earlier and  28 cents over the month.