UPDATE 2-Oil spill trims U.S. offshore natural gas supply

* More platform shutdowns possible as spill spreads east

* Impact of spill on offshore energy production downplayed

* Big issue is whether spill would prompt drill moratorium
(New throughout, adds details, company, analyst)

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, May 1 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. government on Saturday
said two offshore production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico
were shut as a safety precaution — the first sign that the
giant oil slick was affecting the region’s energy production.

But analysts said the location of the spill was well east
and north of the heart of the region’s oil and gas production
— which accounts for about 15 percent of U.S. natural gas
supply. It also provides 25 percent of crude oil output.

The Minerals Management Service — the arm of the Interior
Department that oversees offshore oil and gas activity — said
the two platforms were shut down as a safety precaution due to
the oilspill.

They account for less than 0.1 percent of daily Gulf of
Mexico output. Some 6.2 million cubic feet per day of natural
gas production are involved, the service said.

The MMS did not identify the names or companies that own
the affected platforms, and said more platform shutdowns may be
ordered as the spill spreads eastward.

“Yes, there’s always the possibility of that,” MMS
spokeswoman Eileen Angelico said, when asked if more shutdowns
were possible.

Analysts downplayed the impact of the spill on offshore
energy production. The spill’s trajectory is closer to land and
away from more prolific deepwater production platforms, experts
said.

“It shouldn’t affect production too dramatically,” said Dan
Pickering, co-president of Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. “It
doesn’t feel like there’s imminent danger around the production
itself.”

MORATORIUM ON DRILLING?

The bigger issue is whether the spill would prompt a
moratorium on drilling, Pickering said.

“The implications here are the ongoing impact to the
industry overall and how this becomes a significant influence
on how people think of offshore activity,” he said.

Spokesmen for big offshore producers Apache Corp (APA.N: )
and Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N: ) said their operations have
were unaffected by the spill.

The Anadarko-operated Independence Hub, the largest natural
gas processing facility in the Gulf with capacity to produce 1
billion cubic feet per day of gas, is well southeast of the
spill and out of its path, spokesman John Christiansen said.

The rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd (RIG.N: ),
sank on April 22, two days after it exploded and caught fire
while finishing a well for BP Plc (BP.L: ) 42 miles (68 km) off
the Louisiana coast.

The companies and the U.S. government are in the process of
trying to seal the leaking oil well.

On Monday, an offshore drilling rig owned by Diamond
Offshore Drilling Inc (DO.N: ) that had been working near a
sunken rig was evacuated as a precaution, an MMS official
said.

The last event to affect offshore production was hurricanes
Ike and Gustav in 2008, which shut down nearly all the region’s
output for weeks.

Investment Advice

(Additional reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Xavier
Briand)

UPDATE 2-Oil spill trims U.S. offshore natural gas supply