Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 2, 2009
There are 3,800 oil and natural gas production platforms and 74 operating drilling rigs in the federal, hurricane-prone waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
They are responsible for about 27 percent of the oil and 11 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States every day. These energy resources help to power our cars, homes, and factories, and have a role in nearly every consumer product sold in America today.
This year the United States is expected to have a near normal hurricane season, according to the federal government, and the oil and natural gas industry is ready to respond.
The industry's top priority is the safety of its personnel. Companies operating offshore continuously monitor weather conditions, and when hurricanes enter the Gulf, they shut in the oil and natural gas wells and evacuate the facilities well in advance of approaching storms. The industry has also written new standards and best practices to aid in preparations for the wave height and wind velocity caused by major storms. As we learned from Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane in the open waters of the Gulf can cause 100 ft. waves and winds of up to 200 mph.
With such harsh weather conditions, why would oil and natural gas companies want to operate in the Gulf of Mexico? Simple. American consumers need oil and natural gas, and the U.S. government has not allowed companies to produce energy resources in most other offshore areas. For more than 30 years, oil and natural gas production has not been permitted in the Eastern Gulf, along the Atlantic coast and off the coast of California--except where about 20 older platforms are in operation.
Look at the map again. You can clearly see that oil and natural gas operations are clustered only where the companies are allowed to drill offshore.
For more information, you can read a post from last week featuring API's Tim Sampson and Roland Goodman on EnergyTomorrow Radio talking about hurricane preparedness. You can also check out API's outline of 2009 hurricane preparations and listen to the podcast.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.