Rigzone Looks Back: One of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina caused damages to more than 50 platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as onshore refining and transport facilities.
It has been a week since Hurricane Katrina pounded its way across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, on its way to causing one of the worst natural disasters in American history. The course it took through the Gulf led straight through the heart of the offshore oil patch into America's most active port and leading oil refining region. The damage to the oil and gas industry is still being assessed, but by all accounts it could have been much worse.
However, the damage to the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans in particular is truly catastrophic. One of America's most historic cities has been filled with flood waters that contain an assortment of petrochemicals, human waste, heavy metals, and other toxins. Hundreds, if not thousands, have died from the flood waters and the lack of basic necessities. At least half a million people have been forced out of their homes to take refuge with family and friends or in the shelters being prepared by the Red Cross and government agencies. Among those are many of our friends and co-workers from within the industry, including some portion of the nearly 20,000 Rigzone members who live in that area.
When compared with such overwhelming problems faced by these individuals and families, the issues that the offshore oil industry must surmount seem minor. Yet, it is imperative to the United States and the Gulf Coast that every effort be made to return the industry back to order. And so, while we push on to keep this industry moving, our hearts and our prayers stay with those who have lost so much.
Offshore Damage Overview and Perspective
According to the MMS, Ivan destroyed 7 offshore platforms and did damage to 100 underwater pipelines. Ivan also damaged a total of 7 offshore rigs (4 semisubs, 2 platform rigs, 1 jackup) and completely destroyed 2 rigs (1 jackup, 1 platform rig).
Katrina damaged a total of 12 rigs, including at least 5 that are likely to be scrapped. Discounting the 3 semisubs that only suffered loss of ballast and listing, Katrina still damaged 9 offshore rigs. Additionally, damage to at least 30 offshore platforms has been confirmed, with 18 platforms a total loss. And that number may increase, as a recent MMS report indicated a total of 58 damaged platforms and rigs in the Gulf. The only major area of uncertainty is how badly the underwater pipelines connecting the offshore platforms to shore have been damaged. It will be at least several more days before those damages can be fully assessed.
Offshore Rig Damage Assessment
The most severe damage was dealt to the Rowan New Orleans (250' IS jackup), which appears to have been sunk, and Diamond's Ocean Warwick (300' IC jackup), which was carried 66 miles by the storm and washed up on Dauphin Island. In addition to these jackup losses, 4 platform rigs suffered serious damages, so much so that all 4 may be scrapped. The most valuable rig damaged by Katrina was Transocean's $330 million semisub, the Deepwater Nautilus, which was moved 80 miles off of its pre-storm position and experienced significant damage to its risers and subsea systems.
Offshore Platform Damage Assessment
Shell's $550 million Mars tension leg platform (TLP) was handling 147,000 barrels of oil and 157mmcfe per day from its location on Mississippi Canyon 807 before Katrina hit on Sunday. Now the platform is entirely shut-in and has experienced major damages due to the destruction of the H&P 201 platform rig that was located on its top sides. The extent of the damages to the Mars platform has yet to be ascertained, but the H&P 201 is almost certainly a total loss.
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