Bonnie fades but disrupts Gulf oil output

MIAMI (BestGrowthStock) – The remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie dissipated over the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday after the mere threat of the storm took a big bite out of production in the Gulf oil patch.

Issuing what it said would be its last advisory on Bonnie, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it was no longer a tropical depression and had degenerated into a disorganized area of low pressure.

Though toothless in the end, Bonnie had prompted oil and natural gas producers to evacuate many offshore workers, suspending more than half of crude oil production in U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf and about 25 percent of gas output.

It also hampered efforts by BP Plc to permanently plug its leaking Macondo oil well in the Gulf.

The Miami-based hurricane center said the system was still packing sustained winds of nearly 30 miles per hour as it moved over the Gulf near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

But it was expected to fall apart completely by Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

The center had earlier lifted all coastal tropical storm warnings associated with Bonnie, ahead of its projected landfall early on Sunday over southeast Louisiana or southern Mississippi.

A relief well rig and other vessels dealing with the BP spill were preparing to return to the site of the blown-out well on Saturday, the company said. They had moved out earlier due to the storm threat.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil production, 11 percent of natural gas production and more than 43 percent of U.S. refinery capacity.

Bonnie was the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1 and runs through November 30.

Forecasters say this year’s hurricane season is expected to be especially active.

Bonnie fell below tropical storm strength on Friday, during its passage from the Caribbean and across the southern tip of Florida into the Gulf.

The hurricane center had warned earlier of a chance it could strengthen as it fed off the warm waters of the Gulf, however, prompting precautionary evacuations of work sites across the offshore oil patch.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said 51.65 percent of Gulf oil production and 23.53 percent of natural gas output were shut as of Saturday due to Bonnie.

It said 106 production platforms, 16.72 percent of all those in the Gulf, had been evacuated.

Based on reports submitted by oil and natural gas producers, the bureau said, 826,365 barrels per day of oil production was shut as of Saturday along with 1.506 billion cubic feet (42.6 million cubic meters) per day of natural gas output.

Stock Market Today

(Reporting by Tom Brown and Erwin Seba; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Bonnie fades but disrupts Gulf oil output