Port Fourchon, the main hub for offshore support vessels (OSVs) that serve deepwater oil and gas drilling in the US Gulf of Mexico, suffered “extensive” and “far-reaching” damage from Hurricane Ida, according to the Louisiana port’s executive director
“We have a long recovery ahead of us,” Port Fourchon director Chet Chiasson told National Public Radio. Mr Chiasson said there were vessels “in places that they’re not supposed to be.” He expected it would take weeks to get the port back up and running. “How many weeks is a good question. But we just don’t know that. We’re continuing to assess these damages,” he said.
Mr Chiasson expected the loss of oil and gas production from the US Gulf of Mexico would result in a rise in gas prices. “The prices are going to go up because we’re – day-to-day, we service about 16 to 20% of the nation’s entire oil supply,” said Mr Chiasson.
In a storm recovery update on 30 August, the port said it “experienced a direct hit by a strong Category 4 hurricane. Impacts included extreme and sustained hurricane force winds and storm surge of 3.6 m-4.3 m in places. Water levels have receded, but large amounts of wind and water-driven storm debris are impeding access on multiple levels. Port assessment teams are on the ground and actively working toward safe entry.
“Waterways into and within Port Fourchon and all along Bayou Lafourche are impeded by multiple obstructions and sunken vessels. NOAA coast survey is en route to the area to conduct channel surveys in the port but expect delayed waterway access to Fourchon facilities. Vessels should not attempt to enter or exit the port until the Port Commission’s damage assessment has been completed and the all clear is given. This is for safety and security purposes.
“The Ted Gisclair Floodgate in Larose and the Leon Theriot Lock in Golden Meadow remain closed to all marine traffic.”
The port is without power and running water. Estimates are more than 1M people are without power in southern Louisiana. Utility crews are out assessing the infrastructure damage. Restoring power could take up to 30 days.
As a result of the impact of Hurricane Ida, energy analyst Rystad Energy estimates US oil production and refinery capacity will have a peak daily supply curtailment of 1.8M barrels per day (b/d) in the Gulf of Mexico, which currently has a peak daily production capacity of 1.9M b/d. Based on reported power outages and the closure of refineries in preparation for the storm, nearly 2M b/d of US Gulf coast refining capacity is estimated to be currently offline.
“We estimate the cumulative production outage impact to be equivalent to 5.5 days of maximum capacity, assuming rapid reactivation to start as soon as 31 August and 1 September,” said Rystad. The energy analyst sees a drop of 215,000 b/d and 127,000 b/d on monthly averages for August and September, respectively.
Nearly 95% of the oil production capacity in the US Gulf of Mexico was shut in in preparation for Hurricane Ida to facilitate the evacuation of personnel from offshore platforms and drilling rigs. Oil companies are returning personnel to platforms to assess any damage from the hurricane and restart operations.
ExxonMobil, for example, reported on 30 August there was no damage to the Hoover platform that was evacuated in advance of the hurricane. “We are returning crews to the platform and have begun the process of resuming normal operations.”
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