Pemex Shuts Down Oil Platforms in Gulf Ahead of Hurricane

MEXICO CITY Aug 20, 2007 (Dow Jones)

Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Monday it is temporarily shutting down and evacuating all its oil and gas production platforms in the Campeche Sound as Hurricane Dean approaches the zone.

In a press release, Pemex said the shutdown of 407 wells in the zone, located in the southern Gulf of Mexico, will shut in 2.65 million barrels a day of crude oil and 2.634 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas.

In the first half of this year, Pemex's overall crude production averaged 3.16 million barrels a day, and its natural gas production averaged 5.925 billion cubic feet a day.

Pemex, one of the top foreign suppliers of crude oil to the U.S., said whether or not it declares "force majeure" on shipments will depend on the effects of the storm.

Pemex exports approximately 1.7 million barrels a day of crude oil, of which about 80% goes to the U.S.

Pemex evacuated more than 13,000 workers from the platforms in the Campeche Sound between Sunday and Monday, and said just over 1,000 workers had remained to secure the facilities.

Hurricane Dean, currently a category 4 storm, is expected to hit the Yucatan peninsula early Tuesday, and to reach the Gulf of Mexico later in the day, weakened after crossing land.

Pemex said its technical assessment team expects the platforms to be affected by winds between 125 kph (78 mph) and 155 kph (97 mph), waves from 20 to 22 feet, and several inches of rain.

Pemex said it will also shut down crude loading operations at its Gulf ports and its two floating storage vessels, "Lord of the Seas" and "Ta'kuntah" once the loadings under way Monday morning are completed.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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