Hurricane Delta, which is growing in strength, deals the largest blow to US offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico in 15 years, disrupting most of the region’s oil production and about two-thirds of its natural gas production.
The delta, an already large and powerful storm, could increase in intensity further Friday as it penetrated a major oil-producing region in the Gulf, and the hurricane reached 195 kilometers per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Delta shut down 1.67 million barrels per day, or 92 percent of oil production, in the Gulf, the biggest level since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 100 offshore platforms and disrupted production for months.
Oil prices fell in early trade in Asia on Friday, but they are on track to achieve gains of about 10 percent per week, supported by disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico and a labor conflict in the North Sea, which resulted in a total of 3.17 million barrels per day removed from the market.
Workers evacuated 279 offshore facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and producers moved 15 drilling rigs away from the large and strong winds of the Delta. The National Hurricane Center says the strength of the tropical winds extends 160 miles from its epicenter, an indication of the size of a large hurricane.
In addition to oil, producers have stopped about 62 percent of the region’s natural gas production, or the equivalent of 1.675 billion cubic feet per day. Offshore fields in the Gulf of Mexico produce about 15 percent of US crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas production.