DOE Releases Final Report on Hurricanes' Impact to Natural Gas Industry

The U.S. Department of Energy announced today the release of a report titled, "Impact of the 2005 Hurricanes on the Natural Gas Industry in the Gulf of Mexico Region."

Prepared by DOE's Office of Fossil Energy, with support from the Department's Energy Information Administration's Office of Oil and Gas, the report summarizes the findings of the DOE's monitoring of the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the natural gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico region from late August 2005 through early March 2006. It details how DOE coordinated with other Federal agencies and various natural gas industry personnel to track storm recovery efforts on a daily basis and identify disrupted natural gas flows and possible bypasses.

The 24-page final report establishes insights into the complex supply delivery operation associated with offshore natural gas production and highlights the importance of accurate, timely data and specific data elements pertinent during other supply-related emergencies. The Minerals Management Service estimated that 3,050 of the Gulf's 4,000 platforms and 22,000 of the 33,000 miles of Gulf pipelines were in the direct path of either Katrina or Rita. The storms impacted 47 major natural gas processing plants and 17 natural gas liquids fractionation sites located within the 70 counties and parishes along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. These facilities have the capacity to process 22.8 Bcf per day.

The hurricanes caused destruction and substantial damage to offshore production platforms and pipelines; onshore production wells, pipelines, processing plants, and other infrastructure supporting the Gulf production and delivery system. A total of 27 plants were affected, or nearly 75 percent of total processing capacity in the region, and operations were disrupted at several fractionators (natural gas liquids plants).

Natural gas in the Gulf comes from wells as deep as five miles below the water's surface. When DOE ended its active monitoring of storm recovery efforts on March 8, production had returned to about 9 Bcf per day, and all but two of the 47 gas processing plants in the area were operating, although at reduced flow levels in aggregate. In its final shut-in statistics report issued on June 21, MMS estimated that about 9.4 percent of daily gas production remained shut in as of June 19.

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