Crude oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico dropped in August by the largest amount compared to the previous month since September 2008, due to shut-ins because of Hurricanes Marco and Laura, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

In August, Gulf of Mexico’s crude oil production declined by 27 percent, or by 453,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared to July, the EIA has estimated.

Total crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico averaged 1.2 million bpd in August 2020, which was the lowest production rate in almost seven years.  

Hurricanes Marco and Laura made landfall on the Gulf coast three days apart in late August and increased the magnitude of shut-ins as operators were pumping reduced volumes of crude oil for 15 days, the EIA said.

So far this year, five hurricanes and one tropical depression have disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico as this year’s Atlantic hurricane season became the most active on record with 30 named storms. So many were the storms this year that the National Hurricane Center ran out of the planned names and started to refer to them as Greek letters.

The latest hurricane that resulted in shut-ins in the Gulf of Mexico was Zeta, which forced the shut-in of 66.6 percent of crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico on October 28, with 228 platforms evacuated.

The record Atlantic hurricane season on record forced operators in the Gulf of Mexico to shut in production of a combined 41 million barrels of oil throughout the season—the highest shut-ins in data dating back to 2010.

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According to Bloomberg’s estimates, the shut-ins of oil production throughout this hurricane season were equal to 270,000 barrels per day (bpd), or roughly the daily production of small OPEC producer Congo.

Gulf of Mexico oil production recovered to average 1.73 million bpd in September, but then fell to 1.29 million bpd in October because of Hurricanes Delta and Zeta. EIA expects crude oil production in the GOM to recover to 1.92 million bpd by December and to average 1.71 million bpd this year.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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