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Tropical Storm Barry forms in US Gulf of Mexico

Storm could turn into hurricane by late Friday, early Saturday, according to National Hurricane Centre

The National Hurricane Centre on Thursday morning said a tropical disturbance in the eastern US Gulf of Mexico had formed into Tropical Storm Barry, as offshore operators shut in more than half of crude production in the region.

As of midday Thursday, the US Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement estimated that about 53.39% of oil production in the region, some 1 million barrels per day, had been shut in. Likewise some 44.51% of natural gas production, or 1.2 billion cubic feet per day, has been curtailed.

Operators have evacuated a total of 191 platforms as well as seven rigs. A total of 11 dynamically positioned rigs have been moved offsite due to the weather.

BP on Wednesday began removing offshore personnel and shutting in production at its operated facilities in the Gulf including Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog, and Na Kika, with no estimate as to when worked will return to resume operations, the company said on its website.

Operators evacuate US Gulf personnel

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Shell said it would continue monitoring conditions in the Gulf, but had already evacuated non-essential personnel from its Appomattox, Mars, Olympus and Ursa facilities in the eastern US Gulf of Mexico. Rig operations have been secured, the company said on its website. There have been minimal impacts to production, Shell said, as it had taken modest production curtailments of 700 and 1835 barrels per day at Mars and Olympus respectively and would continue to watch the situation as needed.

Chevron on Wednesday confirmed to Upstream that it had begun removing all personnel and started shut-in procedures on five platforms in the region, namely the Big Foot, Blind Faith, Genesis, Petronius and Tahiti facilities.

US independent Anadarko has also removed non-essential personnel from its eastern Gulf facilities and shut in production including Constitution, Heidelberg, Holstein, and Marco Polo.

BHP on Tuesday told Upstream it was evacuating workers and ramping down production at its operated Shenzi and Neptune production hubs.

As of Thursday morning, a tropical storm warning was in effect for the Louisiana coast, with a tropical storm watch issued for the Mississippi coast, the National Weather Service said.

At 10 am CT, the centre of the storm was moving toward the west around 5 miles per hour, with a turn toward the west-north-west expected tonight. By Friday night going into Saturday, the centre of the storm will be near the central or south-eastern coast of Louisiana.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph with higher gusts, with expectations that the storm will strengthen within the next day or two, the NHC said.

The storm could turn into a hurricane by late Friday or early Saturday, the agency said.

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