BP evacuates Gulf of Mexico platform ahead of Irma

BP has evacuated its Thunder Horse offshore platform and the West Vela drillship located in the US Gulf of Mexico, as it braces for the Hurricane Irma. 


BP said on the 6th September that with forecasts indicating potential impact this weekend in Florida and possibly later along the southeast Atlantic Coast, the company was taking additional steps to respond.


Therefore, BP said it had started securing offshore facilities for heavy weather and evacuating non-essential personnel from the Thunder Horse platform and the Seadrill-owned West Vela drillship.


Located 150 miles south-east of New Orleans and in 6,050 feet of water, Thunder Horse is designed to process up to 250,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.


BP added it was also preparing for the possible evacuation of remaining offshore workers and the shut-in of production at facilities if needed. However, no production was shut-in at the time.


Meanwhile, Shell said it was monitoring the movements of Hurricane Irma.


According to an update on the 7th September from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), the eye of Irma is moving west-north-westward off the northern coast of Hispaniola heading for the Turks and Caicos Islands and south-eastern Bahamas by the evening, and then be near the Central Bahamas by the 8th September.


NHC added that maximum sustained winds remain near 180 mph (285 km/h) with higher gusts. Irma is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days, NHC said.


Irma comes as the oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are still returning to normal operations and assessing damage from the impact of Hurricane Harvey.