After plowing across Florida, Hurricane Katrina (the 11th named storm of the season), has crossed into the Gulf, gathered more force, and now appears to be headed directly for critical oil-producing platforms and a key hub, Port Fourchon, La.
The National Hurricane Center has said that Katrina could strengthen to a Category 4 or possibly a Category 5 storm before making landfall. Only three Category 5 storms have reached the US mainland in the past 150 years. Category 4 storms have winds of more than 130 miles an hour, while Category 5 storms have winds of more than 155 miles an hour.
Port Fourchon, which is the only one in the region that handles supertankers, accounts for about 13% of U.S. oil imports. About 27% of U.S. domestic production comes through the port’s pipelines.
The Oil Drum is providing some detailed tracking and analysis of the storm, with plots of major fields, the location of ThunderHorse (damaged earlier in the hurricane season), and discussion.
The first graphic is probability swath for Katrina with the recently damaged Thunder Horse platform as the red dot, and the other purple dot represents the Mad Dog development that will ramp up to 100,000 bpd; the Holstein development that will also produce, at peak, around 100,000 bpd of oil; and the Atlantis field that will begin production next year and will ramp up to around 200,000 bpd in all. Put together these projects have the potential of around 650,000 bpd, but as can be seen, they are sitting in an uncomfortable spot relative to the track of the Katrina.