HOUSTON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Murphy Oil Corp began evacuating non-essential workers from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Thursday because of the threat from Tropical Storm Cristobal.
Shell said its production and drilling operations in the U.S.-regulated northern Gulf were unaffected despite the evacuations.
Gulf Coast spot gasoline prices remained steady, traders said. Gulf CBOB gasoline traded on Thursday at 12.50 cents per gallon below the futures benchmark, little changed from Wednesday.
The storm’s impact on prices at the pump is expected to be limited because of the loss of demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, said an analyst with Gas Buddy.
“We aren’t expecting an impact on gas prices from Cristobal at this time given its relatively weak forecast,” said Patrick De Haan at Gas Buddy.
Five companies are removing workers from the Gulf because of Cristobal, which is forecast to pass through offshore oil production areas before striking the Louisiana coast by Monday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
BP Plc said on Wednesday that workers were being evacuated as it shuts in production at its Thunder Horse, Na Kika and Atlantis platforms. The company is also pulling non-essential workers from the Mad Dog platform, but production was unaffected.
Norwegian state-oil company Equinor ASA and Occidental Petroleum Corp began evacuating non-essential workers on Wednesday. Equinor plans to shut the Titan platform on Friday, if necessary.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port LLC (LOOP), Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Hess Corp said their operations were normal.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the Gulf of Mexico to account for 15% of total U.S. crude oil production in 2020.
Reporting by Erwin Seba and Jennifer Hiller in Houston; Additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney