U.S. oil and natural-gas companies have begun evacuating thousands of offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Gustav, which may become the costliest hurricane since Katrina, heads toward the region.
``We could see 50 percent of Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production shut in,'' said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it will evacuate about 300 non- essential workers today from its offshore operations. The evacuation will have no immediate impact on production, Shell said in an announcement on its Web site.
``Several thousand'' of the almost 20,000 workers on offshore platforms, about one-quarter of whom are needed to maintain production, will be evacuated today, Ted Falgout, director of Port Fourchon in Louisiana, said in an interview. The port is a staging area for offshore workers....MORE
The computer models have edged slightly more eastward today, but I expect the hurricane center's updated forecast later today to remain centered upon Louisiana because that's still near the average of the global models.
It's still much too early to talk about where the storm may end up because not only are forecast errors high at this time (i.e. about 300 miles), storms bumping into Cuba are prone to wobble or make unexpected turns. So for the sake of prudence, it's safe to say all areas from Texas' Coastal Bend to the Florida Gulf Coast remain at risk.
But at risk for what? Why the fuss over a 60-mph tropical storm?* The answer lies in the fact that the southeastern Gulf of Mexico -- where Gustav appears bound -- is a hotbed for rapid intensification....MORE