Originally created 09/29/05

Damage to oil rigs may top Katrina



DALLAS - Hurricane Rita might have caused more damage to rigs and platforms than any Gulf of Mexico storm - even its formidable predecessor Hurricane Katrina, oil and gas analysts said Wednesday.

The double-whammy of those hurricanes has already cost the Gulf almost 7 percent of its annual oil production and 5 percent of its yearly natural gas output, according to a report Wednesday from the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

"The impact on the rigs is something that's never been seen by this country before," said Daniel Naatz, the director of federal resources for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

ODS-Petrodata, which provides data and information to the industry, reported 13 rigs already seriously damaged or destroyed by Rita. Platform damage still is being assessed, said Tom Marsh, an ODS analyst.

"You may think that 13 is not significant amount, but this is 10 percent of the contracted fleet out of service for various lengths of time or in some cases permanently," Mr. Marsh said.

Meanwhile, nine of 12 pipelines that move gas and oil onshore remain shut down or operating at less than 100 percent capacity, according to the latest report by the Association of Oil Pipelines.

Refineries in the hardest-hit area of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, plus Lake Charles, La., still are not operating, costing about 1.7 million barrels a day of refined products, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. They include:

- Citgo Petroleum Corp.'s Lake Charles 324,000-barrel-a-day facility

- ConocoPhillips Co.'s West Lake, La., 239,000-barrel-a-day refinery

- Exxon Mobil Corp.'s 348,000-barrel-a-day Beaumont plant, the largest producer in that area

- A 285,000-barrel-a-day joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell PLC's Shell Oil Co. and Motiva Enterprises LLC

- Total SA's 233,500-barrel-a-day Port Arthur facility

- Valero Energy Corp.'s 255,000-barrel-a-day plant in Port Arthur

The slow pace of recovery and concerns about demand for heating oil this winter and for gasoline drove up oil futures Wednesday. Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose $1.28 to $66.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Natural gas futures for October rose more than $1 to $13.907 per million British thermal units.