UPDATE: US Gulf O&G Producers Continue Restaffing after Debby

HOUSTON - Oil and gas companies continued ramping up offshore production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Tuesday as a slowly weakening Tropical Storm Debby moved toward Florida.

About 18.1% of the region's offshore oil production, or 250,187 barrels a day, remained offline as of 12:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. Also, some 17.2% of the area's natural gas production, or 773 million cubic feet a day, was also shut in. There has been a major increase in oil and gas production since Monday, when 44.1% of the oil output and 34.8% of the natural gas output in the U.S. Gulf was shut in.

The government agency, which oversees safety in offshore oil production, said about 8.9% of the Gulf's platforms remained evacuated, down from 31.7% on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm, which has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, was about 35 miles west-northwest of Cedar Key, Fla. The storm is moving faster toward the east-northeast, but it should weaken to a tropical depression over the next day or so, the NHC said.

On Tuesday, BP PLC, the Gulf's largest oil producer, said it would continue redeploying personnel to its platforms. "Our oil and natural gas production will be ramped up in coming days," the company said.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said two of the four operated offshore platforms it had evacuated, Constitution and Marco Polo, were brought back online. Two other facilities, Neptune and Independence Hub, would be restarted "as safely and quickly as possible." All its personnel was back at the four producing facilities, Anadarko said.

Exxon Mobil Corp. said its offshore and coastal facilities "continue to resume normal operations, which we anticipate will be completed by this afternoon." Facilities will be completely restaffed by that time, the company said.

ConocoPhillips said it had safely restaffed its Magnolia offshore platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, after tropical storm Debby moved out towards Florida.

The facility was inspected and "normal operations are now under way to restore production," Conoco said on its website.

Last year, the platform produced 5,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, 75% of which belonged to Conoco.

As of 12:30 p.m. EDT Monday, energy companies had shut in 608,025 barrels a day of crude, or 44.1% of the area's total oil production, and 1.565 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas, or 34.8% of the Gulf's output, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. An update is expected at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday.


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