US Gulf Energy Region Remains 'Under The Gun' of Gustav

NEW YORK (Dow Jones Newswires), August 27, 2008

Nearly 85% of energy facilities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico will be shut in and damage is likely as Gustav, currently a tropical storm, cuts a path from the Caribbean to the Gulf Coast as a powerful hurricane, a prominent weather forecaster predicted Wednesday.

"Based on projected track, size and strength of Gustav over the Gulf, the entirety of the Gulf energy production region remains 'under the gun,' and I expect somewhere near 85% of the Gulf energy infrastructure will be shut in along with a significant increase in damage potential," said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist with weather forecasting firm Planalytics.

Rouiller has been credited with predicting the course and destructive nature of Hurricane Katrina. Three years ago this Friday, Katrina wreaked havoc on offshore crude oil and natural gas production as well as refinery operations, sending prices skyrocketing.

Gustav developed into a Category 1 hurricane early Tuesday but was later downgraded after making landfall in Haiti.

As of 8 a.m. EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Gustav was 120 miles southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"This storm remains likely to explode into a major hurricane over the northwestern Caribbean on Friday," Rouiller said in a research note. "Gustav is still expected to be a very dangerous Category 3 or 4 hurricane as it tracks across the Gulf and heads toward the upper Gulf coast over the Labor Day weekend. The upper Texas coastline to Louisiana remains most at risk. Hurricane track and intensity guidance has not wavered on this ominous forecast."

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