Oil firms evacuate personnel and reduce offshore production ahead of storms

HOUSTON, Aug 22 (.) – Oil companies suspended 13% of their crude production on Saturday, ahead of the predicted passage of tropical storms Laura and Marco through the Gulf of Mexico, according to US government data.

Both storms are scheduled to become hurricanes and make landfall along the central coast of the Gulf of Mexico by midweek. It is unusual for two storms to move through the area simultaneously, raising fears of a double impact on coastal communities.

However, they are not expected to become major hurricanes and their potential paths cover a wide area of ​​the coast, forecasters said.

Murphy Oil Corp and BHP evacuated some workers on Saturday and Royal Dutch Shell Plc began shutting down its oil and gas production at most of its offshore operations. Murphy was planning possible cuts in pumping, the firm said.

BP Plc and Chevron Corp began their closings on Friday. Occidental Petroleum, the third-largest offshore producer in the Gulf of Mexico, said it is implementing weather-related procedures.

Producers suspended production of 240,785 barrels of oil per day and 119 million cubic feet of natural gas a day before noon on Saturday, according to the Office of Environmental Safety and Compliance.

Marco was moving forward on Saturday with winds of 100 kilometers per hour and is expected to become a Category One hurricane before making landfall in southeastern Louisiana on Monday. For her part, it is believed that Laura will reach the same strength and reach the north coast of the gulf a day or two later.

“We don’t see a risk in intensity and strengthening,” said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group, which advises energy and agricultural firms. The prospect of them becoming Category Three hurricane destroyers is only 10%, he said.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams and Erwin Seba; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)