MMS Releases Offshore Facilities Impact Assessment from Hurricanes

The Minerals Management Service released its analysis of the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Analysis of the damage assessment data, along with ongoing research requested by the agency, will be incorporated in plans for future hurricane seasons.

The Gulf of Mexico, one of the nation's largest sources of oil and gas production, was dealt a one-two punch by these hurricanes, causing destruction and substantial damage to offshore platforms within a four-week period in August and September.

MMS estimates 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 Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. Because of the large amount of infrastructure in the path of hurricane-force winds and waves, the amount of damage was substantial. In comparison with Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita accounted for considerably more damage because of the paths taken by these two devastating storms. However, there was no loss of life or significant oil spills from wells on the outer continental shelf (OCS) attributed to either storm.

Hurricane Katrina, which was a category 5 hurricane when it entered the OCS, destroyed 46 platforms (Table 1 in PDF) and damaged 20 others (Table 2 in PDF). To date, 100 damaged pipelines and 211 minor pollution incidents on the OCS have been reported to MMS. Minor pollution incidents are defined as incidents involving less then 500 barrels of oil that do not reach the coast line. Included in the 100 damaged pipelines in Federal waters were 36 large diameter pipelines (10" or larger) that were damaged (Table 3 in PDF). Twelve of these 36 have returned to service.

Hurricane Rita, which was a category 4 hurricane when it entered the OCS, destroyed 69 platforms (Table 4 in PDF) and damaged 32 others (Table 5 in PDF). To date, 83 damaged pipelines and 207 minor pollution incidents on the OCS have been reported to MMS. Included in the 83 damaged pipelines in Federal waters were 28 large diameter pipelines (10" or larger) that were damaged (Table 6 in PDF). Ten of these 28 have returned to service.

MMS has requested research proposals on six subject areas related to the hurricanes and the damage to offshore oil and gas facilities. The six areas are the following: (1) Assess and evaluate pipeline movement or damage; (2) Assess and evaluate platform damage; (3) Provide hurricane hindcast data; (4) Evaluate and assess the performance of jack-up rigs; (5) Assess methods to eliminate hydrates in pipelines and risers during startups after a hurricane; and (6) Assess the response of waves and currents throughout the water column in the northern Gulf of Mexico slope and shelf.

"The overall damage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has shown them to be the greatest natural disasters to oil and gas development in the history of the Gulf of Mexico," MMS Regional Director Chris Oynes said. He noted, "Just last year, in the devastating Hurricane Ivan, there were seven platforms destroyed, compared with the 115 platforms destroyed in Katrina and Rita."

One hundred percent of Gulf oil production, which is approximately 1.5 million barrels a day, was shut-in during both storms and 94 percent of gas production, which is 10 billion cubic feet of gas a day, was shut-in during Hurricane Katrina. More than 90 percent of the manned platforms and 85 percent of working rigs were evacuated at one time. Daily production of about 396,000 barrels of oil and about 1,804 cubic feet of gas remain shut-in. For a long-term projection, approximately 255,000 barrels a day and 400 million cubic feet of gas a day will probably not be restored to production prior the start of the 2006 hurricane season.

Oynes noted that, "Assessments on pipeline and facility damages are still ongoing, and any updates will be reflected in future releases. It is likely that additional damage will be reported as underwater damage assessments are completed. These have been delayed because of overwhelmed support resources, such as diving equipment, support vessels, and remotely operated vehicles."

MMS, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages offshore oil and gas exploration as well as renewable and alternative energy sources such as wind, wave, and solar on 1.76 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf while protecting the human, marine, and coastal environments. The OCS provides 30 percent of oil and 21 percent of natural gas produced domestically, and sand used for coastal restoration. MMS collects, accounts for, and disburses mineral revenues from Federal and American Indian lands, and contributes to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other special use funds, with Fiscal Year 2005 disbursements of approximately $9.9 billion and more than $153 billion since 1982.

Download the PDF with the List of Platforms and Pipelines Damaged or Destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Company: Minerals Management Service (MMS) more info
 - Obama Names New Head of MMS (Jun 15)
 - Abbey Implements New Drilling Requirements (Jun 07)
 - MMS Chief Resigns (May 27)