The fifth hurricane in the 2008 hurricane season, Hurricane Ike is currently a Category 2 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 7 a.m. on Sept. 11, Hurricane Ike is located approximately 575 miles east of Brownsville, Texas, and about 270 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River (latitude 25.3 north, longitude 88.0 west).
With current sustained wind gusts of nearly 100 mph, the storm has the potential of turning into a Category 3 hurricane in the next 24 hours. Gaining strength over the warm waters of the GOM, the storm is expected to be its strongest when passing oil and gas fields and facilities in the central GOM. While the path of the storm has changed over the last couple of days, all measures have already been taken by the oil and gas industry to ensure the safety of its offshore personnel and facilities.
According to the most-recent report from the Minerals Management Service, personnel have been evacuated from 452 production facilities, or 63% of the 717 manned platforms in the GOM. Additionally, personnel have been evacuated from 81 rigs, accounting for 66.9% of the drilling rigs currently working in the gulf.
Production has, again, been brought to a standstill, just a week after the passing of Hurricane Gustav and subsequent production shut-in. The MMS reports that 95.9% of the oil and 73.1 of the natural gas produced in the gulf are currently shut-in.
Prepared and Ready
Always putting the safety of its people first, operators and contractors made the call to evacuate personnel in the GOM. Following the structural destruction of the 2005 hurricane season, the petroleum industry has reassessed and revised design and safety protocol to better withstand hurricanes. The success of this initiative can be seen by the minimal damage caused by Hurricanes Dolly and Gustav.
Diamond Offshore, which has a number of drilling rigs in the path of the storm, has begun following company standard procedures in the event of a major storm in the GOM, Les Van Dyke, director of investor relations for Diamond Offshore, told Rigzone. "We have secured all equipment and evacuated all of our rigs," Van Dyke added. "We'll stand by for the passage of the storm, get out there and evaluate as soon as possible – and get back to work."
In yesterday's direct-hit area, Shell's newly installed Perdido spar seems to have escaped the wrath of Hurricane Ike with expert's new projected path. Construction continues on the spar, and Shell's Global Media Relations Manager, Jaryl Strong informs Rigzone that all safety precautions have been undertaken and "the Perdido spar is storm-safe," adding, "all nine mooring lines have been installed by the Balder."
Like many operators and contractors with personnel working offshore in the GOM, Shell made the decision early to evacuate personnel from every offshore facility in the gulf, completing evacuations by Wednesday, Sept. 10.
According to data and maps obtained from GOMExplorer, the following rigs will weather the brunt of the storm over the next 24 to 48 hours:
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