Oil Majors Begin Evacuations in the US Gulf

Shell has shut-in oil and natural gas production at platforms in the Gulf of Mexico due to the expected approach of Tropical Storm Claudette, the company said on Friday. BP, Marathon, ExxonMobil, Anadarko, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips all said they are evacuating nonessential personnel from Gulf platforms but have not shut down any production.

Transocean Inc. said it stopped drilling operations on 16 rigs in the Gulf. The rigs are located from Louisiana to off Corpus Christi, Texas, according to company spokesman Guy Cantwell. Most are in the western Gulf. The rigs are being shut, even though they may be far from the expected path of the storm, because 48 hours is needed to shut them down and fly workers to land, Cantwell said.

Shell said a total of 10,000 barrels per day of oil and 66 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production were shut-in Friday morning. About 60 nonessential workers were taken off platforms in the central and western Gulf by Friday morning. Production has suspended in the Garden Banks region of the Gulf about 250 miles southeast of Houston

At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) Claudette was about 55 miles (85 km) northwest of Cancun, Mexico, according to the U.S. National Weather Service National Hurricane Center. Claudette is moving northwest at 14 mph (22 kmh) with maximum sustained winds of 55 mph, according to the hurricane center.