Oil and gas companies evacuate employees ahead of Hurricane Ida

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Ports from southern Louisiana to Mississippi were closed early Sunday morning as Hurricane Ida approached the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. 

According to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, energy companies reduced US Gulf of Mexico crude oil production by 91 percent, or 1.65 million barrels. By Saturday, oil and gas companies had evacuated 290 offshore facilities and relocated 11 drill vessels. 

According to a notice on its website, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest privately-owned crude terminal in the United States, has also halted deliveries ahead of the storm. The port’s terminal is located in the open waters of the United States Gulf of Mexico, about 18 miles off the coast of Louisiana. 

Southern Louisiana ports, including Houma and the Port of New Orleans, were closed Sunday, as were Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Mississippi. Ida has intensified faster than officials predicted, prompting evacuations and closing businesses along the Gulf Coast. 

The 1.65 million barrels-per-day production cuts are deeper than those made in the run-up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when 1.53 million barrels were shut down. ExxonMobil reduced output at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery to half its 520,000 barrel-per-day capacity. It also shut down some units in the adjacent chemical plant because trucks will not reach the Baton Rouge complex to remove products as the storm passes through. 

Rubber and lube oil production is also likely to be shut down temporarily at the chemical plant.  “ExxonMobil Baton Rouge facilities are adjusting operations and shutting down some units and equipment to ensure safe and stable operations during the hurricane,” Exxon spokeswoman Julie King told Reuters. 

Source: NBC News 

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