Monday, November 9, 2009

HurricaneWatch: Ida takes aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast; Oil and gas workers evacuated

I was a bit surprised by oil's price action on Thursday and Friday. Thursday's post "Hurricane Watch: "Hurricane Ida strikes Nicaragua" noted:
Nat gas futures were recently trading up two cents at $4.75, oil down $0.62 at $79.78.
While Friday's was titled "Hurricane Watch: "Storm may threaten oil output. Really?"
Today I am confused again, the hurricane is falling apart and heading for the western end of the Florida Panhandle while oil futures are trading up $1.67 while natural gas is trading down eight cents.
Oh well, information asymmetries = money.
Here's the latest from Jeff Masters' Wunderblog:
Hurricane Ida burst into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds this afternoon, and is poised to deliver a solid blow to the U.S. Gulf Coast between Southeast Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday morning. Radar imagery out of Cancun reveals that Ida has retained its tight inner core this afternoon, with only limited rain bands affecting Mexico and western Cuba. Top winds at Cancun, Mexico today were only 15 mph, despite the fact that Ida passed just 60 miles east of the city. Infrared and visible satellite loops show little change in the intensity of Ida's heavy thunderstorms this afternoon, but the cloud pattern is beginning to become distorted due to strong upper-level winds from the southwest that are creating 20 - 25 knots of wind shear over the hurricane.

Water vapor satellite imagery reveals a large area of dry air to the southwest of Ida, but this dry air has not yet intruded into Ida's core. The latest 5:30 pm EST vortex report from the Hurricane Hunters showed that the central pressure had risen 1 mb, to 977 mb, but that the surface winds were still near 100 mph. They noted that the eyewall was open to the east, a sign that Ida's inner core may be in trouble.

The intensity forecast for Ida
The high wind shear of 20 - 25 knots currently affecting Ida is forecast to persist at that level until Monday night. With the storm now beginning to show a distortion of the cloud pattern due to this shear, it would not be a surprise of the shear managed to inject some dry air into Ida's core Monday morning, significantly weakening the storm. Aiding this process will be cooler waters. Early Monday morning, Ida will be crossing over waters of 26°C, which is barely enough to support a hurricane....MORE

Click the map below to change the zoom level.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Oil and gas workers are being evacuated from parts of the Gulf of Mexico and some production is being shut-in as Hurricane Ida takes aim for the Central Gulf coast. The storm should be hitting the Eastern edge of the main oil and gas production areas, so the amount of production offline should be relatively small.

In a statement Sunday night BP said it has curtailed some production and "evacuated most of our non-essential personnel while maintaining essential operations personnel to continue to produce as conditions allow. In the event that the storm worsens, operations personnel will work to ensure a safe and efficient shut in of production and to also position the facilities for a safe and efficient re-start."

Chevron said in a very brief statement on its web site that it has "begun to evacuate personnel due to Hurricane Ida. Some production has been shut in.">>>MORE