Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed 113 petroleum production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal agency overseeing offshore drilling said.
The storms also damaged 457 pipelines connecting production facilities in the Gulf and bringing oil and natural gas to shore – a sharp rise from the 183 damaged pipelines identified in January, the Minerals Management Service said.
Interruption of the Gulf supply has played a role in the recent round of record-high oil and gasoline prices in the U.S. Officials have said that it is likely that as much as a fifth of the Gulf’s normal daily oil production of 140,000 barrels will still be off market when the next hurricane season begins on June 1.
The MMS warned that additional damage likely would be discovered as more underwater inspections are conducted.
“These have been delayed because of overwhelmed support resources, such as diving equipment, support vessels, and remotely operated vehicles,” said MMS regional director Chris Oynes.
Of the 113 destroyed platforms, four replacements have been approved by the MMS. The agency said those will take the place of eight destroyed platforms with a pre-storm daily production of 16,700 barrels.
MMS said six hurricane-related oil spills of at least 1,000 barrels were identified, the largest being 3,625 barrels. The spills did not impact shores or wildlife, the agency said.
According to the latest MMS report issued on April 19, 22 percent of the region’s normal daily oil production and 13 percent of normal daily natural gas production remained blocked from market.
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