Australia Braces for Tropical Cyclone Billy
by Phaedra Friend
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Residents onshore Western Australia aren't the only ones bracing for a Christmas-time impact from Tropical Cyclone Billy. Petroleum companies are making arrangements to ensure safety offshore at oil and gas fields in the path of the storm.
Currently packing Category 1-force winds and rains, Tropical Cyclone Billy is located east-northeast of Learmonth, Australia; and weather tracking tools show the storm drifting across the King Sound and over the northern tip of the Dampier Peninsula.
With current sustained winds of 55 knots and gusts up to 70 knots, waves offshore are reaching heights of 12 feet. According to the Australian Naval Maritime Forecast Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Billy is expected build intensity and veer in a westward direction.
Offshore Safety Measures Taken
According to reports from Reuters, Apache has already shut-in production from two oil fields in the path of the storm. The Stag and Ocean Legendre offshore fields boast a combined daily output of 13,200 bopd. With a crude oil storage capacity of 700,000 barrels of oil, Stag's Dampier Spirit FSO was designed to disconnect from its mooring and sail to safety when a cyclone occurs.
Less than a year ago, the same two fields, as well as others in the area, were shut-in due to Tropical Cyclone Nicholas in February 2008. Also a Category 1 storm, Nicholas forced operators, such as Apache, Woodside and BHP Billiton, to shut-in more than 220,000 bopd for nearly a week.
Reports on other fields in the path of the storm, namely Stybarrow, Griffin, Cossack Pioneer, Enfield, Vincent, Mutineer-Exeter and Barrow/Thevenard, have indicated that operators are not yet evacuating crews.
Drilling Operations Halted
Additionally, Rigzone reported on Dec. 16, 2008, that Woodside Petroleum suspended appraisal drilling operations at the Sedco 703 in the Browse Basin, and that the Shell-operated drilling of the Libra-1 exploration well by the Ocean Epoch was curtailed and staff evacuated.
Today, Tap Oil reported that drilling operations at the Fletcher-3 appraisal well were stopped and the Songa Mercer semisubmersible was evacuated on Dec. 20, 2008.
Also, MEO reported today that Tropical Cyclone Billy has delayed the Songa Venus semisubmersible from its current location on the Ichtys North 1 well operated by Santos. Due to safety measures, the Songa Venus will not be released from the well until Jan. 5, 2009.
Rigzone will continue tracking Tropical Cyclone Billy and make periodic updates concerning safety measures being taken at offshore fields and operations in the path of the storm.
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