Nearly three-quarters of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production was offline on Friday ahead of Tropical Storm Nate, with Gulf Coast energy companies bracing for the second major storm in as many months to menace the region.
Nate was moving over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula at about 21 miles per hour (34 kph) on Friday afternoon and is expected to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast late Saturday as a hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
That path takes it right through the most-active oil-producing region of the Gulf, with myriad wells and platforms. Producers moved quickly to shut-in wells on Friday, evacuating 66 platforms and taking more than 1 million barrels of oil in daily production offline since Thursday, according to government data.
Nate has already pushed nearly three times as much Gulf crude production offline as Hurricane Harvey did in August. At its height, Harvey shut-in only about 25 percent of the region’s oil production.
Nate is expected to cut U.S. exports of crude oil and boost refining margins given low stockpiles of gasoline and other refined products, Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients on Friday.
Oil prices dropped 2 percent on Friday – despite the storm – on concerns about global oversupply and profit taking.
ConocoPhillips on Friday said it began evacuating non-essential personnel from its Magnolia oil platform in the central Gulf of Mexico, joining six other producers that have withdrawn workers or curbed production.
Exxon Mobil Corp shut down all production at two subsea production systems on Friday afternoon and was beginning to evacuate staff from its Mobile Bay platform, the day after evacuating its Lena platform.
Chevron Corp shut down its 4,100-mile (6,598 km) pipeline subsidiary, saying it would not accept or deliver crude until after Nate subsided.
Matt Rogers, meteorologist at Commodity Weather Group, said the speed of the storm could leave it as a Category 1 hurricane with up to 80 mile per hour (129 kph) winds.
“In our view it is not going to be strong enough to do damage” to offshore production facilities, he said. “Usually when storms move this quickly they have troubles developing,” he said.
In New Orleans the U.S. Coast Guard declared condition “X-Ray” at the port ahead of Nate, which means force winds are possible within 48 hours. Commercial vessels and large barges must report to the Coast Guard to decide whether to depart or remain.
Parts of the Mississippi River, which flows past New Orleans and is a major transit hub for oil and other commodities, have been closed to inbound deep draft vessels.
The region’s oil refineries are still recovering from Harvey, which shut production at some plants for weeks. Producers also curtailed some production but quickly resumed output.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc decided against cutting operations at its 225,800 barrel-per-day (bpd) Norco, Louisiana, refinery, reversing an earlier decision to cut rates.
Shell did, though, close production at three oil-producing hubs in the eastern Gulf.
Phillips 66 was shutting down its 247,000 bpd Alliance, Louisiana, refinery as a precautionary measure. It is located 25 miles (40 km) south of New Orleans.[nL2N1MH01Y]
Commodity Weather forecast Nate to bring moderate rainfall when it makes landfall somewhere west of Mobile Bay, Alabama, and east of New Orleans, Louisiana. It expects between 4 inches and 6 inches (10-15 centimeters) of rain to fall in the path of the storm.
The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is home to about 17 percent of the nation’s crude oil output and 5 percent of dry natural gas output, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More than 45 percent of the nation’s oil refining capacity is along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Gary McWilliams and Erwin Seba; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Trump’s tax law threatened TurboTax’s profits — so the company started charging the disabled, the unemployed and students
The 2017 tax overhaul vastly expanded the number of people who could file simplified tax returns, a boon to millions of Americans.
But the new law directly threatened the lucrative business of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax.
Although the company draws in customers with the promise of a “free” product, its fortunes depend on getting as many customers as possible to pay. It had been regularly charging $100 or more for returns that included itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations. Under the new law, many wealthier taxpayers would no longer be filing that form, qualifying them to use the company’s free software.
Trump’s packed Supreme Court backs ‘forced arbitration’ that bars workers from taking abusive bosses to court
Corporations are rapidly rendering sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination, life-threatening workplaces and wage theft immune to employee legal action.
They achieve this by forcing the vast majority of non-union private-sector workers to sign away their rights to go to court or use class or collective arbitration. Instead many millions of workers are being forced to forgo these efficient legal ways to resolve issues and to file individual arbitration claims.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy says that by 2024 more than 80% of non-union private-sector workers will find courthouse doors chained shut by forced arbitration clauses that ban lawsuits and collective actions. (EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to press the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.)
Corporations can legally put carcinogens in our food without warning labels — here’s why
A recent study by the Environmental Working Group revealed something horrifying: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup, was present in 17 of the 21 oat-based cereal and snack products at levels considered unsafe for children. That includes six different brands of Cheerios, one of the most popular American cereals.
I've written before about the limits of corporate free speech when it comes to public safety, but on that occasion I discussed this insofar as it involved corporate-sponsored climate change denialism. Yet here we have something more tangible, more direct: The safe glyphosate limit for children is 160 parts per billion (ppb), yet Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch has 833 parts per billion and regular Cheerios has 729 ppb. While the potential risks of glyphosate are fiercely debated, many scientists believe that it is linked to cancer.