As rain and wind from tropical storm Debby began to hit Florida and the Gulf Coast this morning, workers scurried to flee oil and gas rigs on the water. At least 23% of oil and gas production in the Gulf has been temporarily suspended, the Associated Press reports.
Workers have been removed from 61 production platforms and 13 drilling rigs in Debby’s path. Weather forecasters expect the tropical storm to move slowly across the Gulf in the coming days on a generally northern track. Debby could generate hurricane force winds by Tuesday.
Major oil and gas producers, including Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A,RDS.B), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), BP (NYSE:BP), Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) have production facilities in the region.
So far, the suspension of operations in the Gulf affects a tiny percentage of U.S. crude oil production, too little to have a significant impact of oil prices, according to analysts. Indeed, U.S. benchmark crude prices fell more than $1.50 per barrel in Monday trading.
Officials in Louisiana were bracing for the storm’s arrival along the state’s southeast coast, where flooding is expected in low-lying areas.