BP started sending workers back to three deepwater Gulf of Mexico platforms on Friday as Tropical Storm Don churned toward the Texas coast, bypassing the basin's largest concentrations of energy facilities.
Later in the day, Chevron Corp said it had shut in some production and started evacuating some workers from parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron, giving its first update since Wednesday, declined to specify how much output was shut in or how many workers were being evacuated, "as conditions are constantly changing".
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said 11.9 per cent of Gulf of Mexico crude and 6.2 per cent of natural gas output in the western part of the basin was shut in, based on reports from 21 companies.
The BOEM also said 166,554 barrels per day of oil and 327 million cubic feet per day of natgas was offline.
Those figures imply total daily Gulf output is 1.4 million barrels of oil and 5.3 billion cubic feet of natgas, according to BOEM data.
BP will restart its Atlantis platform "in due course", company spokesman Daren Beaudo said. The two other platforms, Holstein and Mad Dog, had been shut for maintenance before Don formed.
"With the storm's westward movement, BP has determined that it is safe to begin re-manning its three platforms that were evacuated," Beaudo said.
BHP Billiton spokesman Kris Sava said the company expected to re-man its two deepwater platforms, Neptune and Shenzi, with support personnel over the weekend. Those platforms, in the same concentrated area as BP's three facilities, were never shut in or fully evacuated.
Apache Corp announced further output shut-ins.
Other deepwater platforms closer to the storm's path over the western Gulf remained shut, including six run by Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Shell Oil Co's Perdido.
The Gulf accounts for 30 per cent of US oil output and 12 per cent of US natgas production, the BOEM said.
BP's three platforms being re-manned are in Green Canyon, one of the Gulf's major hubs of oil and gas infrastructure. Green Canyon was about 430 kilometres east of Don's path, while the other hub, Mississippi Canyon, was 720 kilometres away.
Don is the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Energy traders were already looking past Don, which they viewed as a weak storm that would bring little to no damage, allowing producers quickly to re-man and restart platforms.
US crude oil futures ended down 1.79 per cent on Friday, posting the lowest close in two weeks after data showed anaemic second-quarter economic growth and Washington remained bogged down in its debt-limit debate.
Instead, some traders eyed a westward-moving tropical wave and low-pressure system about 1,930 kilometres east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles that the US National Hurricane Centre said had a 30 per cent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within the next two days.
That system will be named Emily if it strengthens into a storm or hurricane. "Emily will likely be a more significant storm," said Tom Knight, a trader at petroleum marketers Truman Arnold in Texarkana, Texas. "I suspect it will be a named storm by Monday. It will be a busy August and September."
He said it was unlikely that system could prompt producers to maintain current shut-ins because it was "at least a week away" and some computer models showed it could threaten the East Coast rather than the Gulf Coast.
From/ Gulf News