Exxon Evacuates Nova Scotia Gas Platforms Ahead of Bill

NEW YORK (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 21, 2009

ExxonMobil Canada said it is evacuating personnel from production facilities at five natural gas fields it operates off the coast of Nova Scotia, ahead of Hurricane Bill's expected arrival on Sunday.

"ExxonMobil is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Bill," spokeswoman Margot Bruce-O'Connell said Thursday. "Based on the current predictions of the storm's severity and with the safety of our work force as our first priority, ExxonMobil has decided to evacuate all personnel from the Sable facilities."

The National Hurricane Center expects swells from Bill, currently a Category 3 hurricane, to start affecting Canada's Atlantic coast over the next few days. As the storm moves to warmer waters, Bill is expected to intensify to a Category 4 storm.

The Sable Offshore Energy Project is operated by ExxonMobil Canada, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil, but ownership is shared with Shell Canada, Imperial Oil Resources and Mosbacher Operating. As of 5 p.m. EDT, U.S. National Hurricane Center models indicated that Bill would enter Nova Scotia waters on Sunday.

Sable normally has 60 employees staggered across five natural gas fields in the region, but Bruce-O'Connell said that number swelled to a couple hundred to perform planned maintenance starting about a week ago. A drilling rig that was recently brought in to the area is also being evacuated.

ExxonMobil has already evacuated a number of employees, and "the remaining will be brought in the next couple of days," by boat or helicopter, Bruce-O'Connell added.

The company said no natural gas was currently being produced because of the maintenance.  

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