As the Gulf of Mexico's 2007 hurricane season draws to a close on November 30, the industry squeaks by with relatively little production disruption.
The National Hurricane Center reported that the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, including storms that affect the Gulf of Mexico, consisted of 14 named storms, of which six became hurricanes.
The start of the summer was relatively tame with June's Tropical Storm Barry and July's Tropical Storm Chantal.
One the season's biggest storms occurred in August. Hurricane Dean reached a maximum wind speed of 165 mph and was labeled a Category 5 storm when it plowed into Mexico.
September saw four hurricanes – Felix (a Category 5 storm), Humberto, Karen (upgraded after the storm to a hurricane designation) and Lorenzo. The month also had four tropical storms and one tropical depression. Despite the high number of disturbances, the National Hurricane Center reported that the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index was below average due to the short-lived nature of the storms.
October consisted of one tropical depression and Tropical Storm Noel at the end of the month, which reached maximum wind speeds of 60 mph.
The effects of the light storm season are being realized in a number of different ways. Production estimates have been increased because not as many fields had to be halted as precautionary measures. In fact, Anadarko just increased its 2007 production guidance by 2 million BOE, due in part to "a relatively calm hurricane season."
Industry resource IHS recently released its take on the effects of hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico, stating that the storms no longer pose as big of a threat, citing improved structures, engineering and planning.
"IHS production data from 1960 through 2005, which includes the record levels of damage from Katrina and Rita in 2005 and significant hurricane impact from four other hurricanes in the last decade, shows that an average Gulf of Mexico hurricane season disrupts only 1.4% of the annual oil production and 1.3% of the annual gas production," said Steve Trammel, a senior product manager with IHS.
The other major storms of the last decade include 1995's Hurricane Opal, Hurricane George in 1998, Hurricane Lili in 2002 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
The 2005 hurricane season, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, wrought havoc on the industry's Gulf of Mexico investments. The MMS reported that about 75% of the Gulf of Mexico platforms and 67% of its pipelines were in the path of either Katrina or Rita. Some facilities are still undergoing construction to correct damages caused during that season.
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