NEW ORLEANS -- Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs in the path of Tropical Storm Dolly. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) has activated its Continuity of Operations Plan team to monitor the operators' activities. The team will be activated until operations return to normal and the storm is no longer a threat to oil and gas activities.
Based on data from offshore operator reports, personnel have been evacuated from four production platforms, equivalent to 0.6 % of the 717 manned platforms in the GoM.
Personnel from one rig have also been evacuated; this is equivalent to 0.8 % of the 123 rigs currently operating in the Gulf.
As part of the evacuation process, personnel activate the shut-in procedure, which can also be accomplished from a remote location. This involves closing the safety valves located below the surface of the ocean to prevent the release of oil or gas. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the shut-in valves functioned 100% of the time, efficiently closing in production from wells and resulting in no major spills from the OCS, according to MMS.
After the hurricane has passed, facilities will be inspected. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back online immediately. Facilities sustaining damage may take longer to bring back on line.