Oil Companies Begin Platform Evacuations Ahead Of Tropical Storms

With the approach of a possible tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico, some petroleum producers are moving non-essential crew members from production platforms.

Operators are cutting off a small amount of production, as they keep tabs on tropical weather disturbances. Darren Beaudo is with BP.

"Due to the unpredictability of the storm systems that are out there, we began evacuating non-essential personnel yesterday — more than 500 people shuttled off the platforms that BP operates in the Gulf of Mexico — and made the decision to start this morning evacuating all of out platforms in shutting in production safely." 

A low pressure system about 350 miles north of Bermuda stands a chance in the next two days of becoming a tropical storm. And the National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Katia is about a thousand miles east of the Leeward Islands and moving west across the Atlantic. Sean Comey says Chevron has started removing non-essential workers.

"We're closing monitoring the tropical dusturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. Non-essential personnel are being evacuated, but no production has been affected."

Federal regulators say less than six percent of oil and less than three percent of gas production is being affected. BP's Derren Beaudo says safety of personnel is the top concern.

"The unpredictability of the storms — the potential for them to escalate — was just too much for us to take any chances with our employees and the security of the assets in the Gulf of Mexico."

Royal Dutch Shell, Anadarko Petroleum and ExxonMobil say they're removing workers and cutting off a small amount of production. Companies typically first remove people not directly involved in production, such as cooks and maintenance workers.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...