US oil firms Chevron and Occidental Petroleum are pulling out staff and administering storm precautions at their Gulf of Mexico offshore facilities as the area braces for a tropical storm.
Weather forecasters said on Thursday a tropical or subtropical depression is expected to form in the Gulf of Mexico by Friday, with warnings issued from Intercoastal City, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border, including New Orleans.
Occidental said it is carefully tracking the storm as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico. “All of our facilities have plans to prepare for weather-related events and are implementing those procedures, which are designed to safeguard the environment and protect the safety and health of our personnel and the communities where we operate,” the company said in a statement.
Chevron has also reportedly removed non-essential staff from three oil platforms and fully evacuated a fourth, but with production still at a normal level.
“We will continue to closely monitor the storm and we remain focused on the safety of our workforce, the integrity of our facilities and the protection of the environment,” Chevron spokesperson Deena McMullen told Reuters.
All workers were evacuated from the Genesis facility, some 240 km off Louisiana, and non-essential workers were removed from Chevron’s Big Foot, Jack/St. Malo, and Tahiti platforms.
Oil majors BP and Shell are also said to be monitoring the situation.
The storm, which is expected to strengthen into a tropical cyclone 3, is expected to make landfall in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and the Florida Panhandle on Friday night and continue through the weekend.