Cyclone Gonu Thread 4

As of noon EDT on 6/7, this is the Gonu post of record.

The final models from Chuck Watson of KAC/UCF are in and they are forecasting, based on their damage models, that:

* Qalhat (Sur) LNG terminal: 18 days down time
* Mina al Fahal oil terminal: 14 days down time

(NB: These final damage estimates decreased a bit from initial runs but have been close to these numbers all along--all assume US construction standards.)

Why did we spend so much time on this? As I said before, that answer begins with the fact that the world production of petroleum is plateauing around 85 mbbl/day, so any slight blip in supply or exporting could be quite noticeable on the world markets--as a sizeable portion of the world's petroleum exports go through the Gulf of Oman. This has not changed. Had Gonu remained a more powerful cyclone, because of the lack of supply available to the market I mention above, the scenario could have played out quite differently.

And even so, there are a lot of things we do not know yet. The storm still may have affected petroleum exports from Iran and the UAE for that matter--mainly because of shipping disruptions in the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, but there could also be some real effects on infrastructure and assets depending on storm surge, track and landfall--factors we are still learning about.

I am happy that the human and material cost of this storm has been much smaller than we expected to this point. I hope that people do not forget the people whose lives have been changed by this storm...and there are many in Oman and other countries who need our charitable help. I hope that the news continues to be better than we expected--but I still stand by my decision to cover this storm closely on The Oil Drum.

Under the fold (hit "there's more") are links to previous threads and links to all of the resources we used over the course of the coverage of Gonu. We would ask that you deposit new material in this comment thread.

Here are links to our first Cyclone Gonu Thread (6/4), our second thread on the same topic (6/5), our third thread that covered much of the "landfall" of Gonu on 6/6.

Please put all new resources and insights here as of noon EDT 6/7, but make sure to check out the first threads as well.


Particularly, Oman also matters in this because it produces 743,000 bbl/day; Oman is also a net exporter, non-OPEC, whose production peaked earlier in the decade.

The latest from Margie Kieper at Weather Underground:

Gonu evaporated, essentially, today, while traversing the Gulf of Oman. Clouds over the center dissipated, and convection thinned and dispersed outward. It appears that damage was severe along the extreme southeastern coast that I talked about on Jeff's blog Tuesday. Roads to the area have been washed out, and now that winds have subsided, helicopters will be able to access the area. It will be morning shortly in Oman, and likely this will bring the first news of what has happened in these areas. [...] The TRMM product indicated that about 175mm of rain fell in Mascat the last 24 hours.

Earlier in the day from Margie Kieper and Steve Gregory (on Jeff Masters' blog) over at Weather Underground:

This is an unprecedented event. NO CYCLONE has ever entered the Gulf of Oman. And there are no custom 'storm surge' models available for that area. This forecast is based on my experience and subjective analysis of the seabed slope and storm surge interaction with the sea floor. Considering the region has never experienced a hurricane, let alone a strong one it is highly unlikely the loading facilities or platforms were constructed to withstand the forces - both wave action and wind force - that they will experience. Significant, damage will occur. How much long term damage, and the volumes associated with it - can not be determined at this time.

And here's links to track map:

Damage assessment:

Storm surge modeling:

Here's a link to a map of land-based oil assets on the peninsula.

Regarding GONU...

Sorted by date...

--I can say with confidence that this forecaster has never seen the likes of this

If you go here, and click
on the North Indian Ocean links, you can get a feel for how rare this is. From 1995 on, no tropical storm of any strength ever reached the Persian Gulf.

(from Stuart: There's past year storm tracks at The University of Hawaii (click on the North Indian years). Here's the most active past year I could find (1998):

Here's a map of the area:

(here's full size).

Last US Navy warning @ Gonu

at June 7, 06Z (it is now June 7 1636Z)

Winds 35 knots Gusts to 45 knots
14 foot seas

Forecast for June 7, 18Z

Winds 25 knots Gusts to 35 knots


My GUESS for Oil Impact

LNG Terminal in Sur is likely significantly damaged and infrastructure in area is also in poor shape.

A few weak links will be damaged at the oil terminal near Muscat (including oil pipeline feeding it near coast). The only critical structure at risk is the offshore loading buoy. Everything else can be fixed in a week. A few Omanis are in desperate shape but more than enough remain OK to do critical work.

The terminal appears to be on high enough ground to escape seawater intrusion and the access road seems to be designed to carry flash floods through the complex (a delta appears just after the road turns and just before a concrete bridge on the coastal road).

Inland oil infrastructure untouched. Backbone of electrical grid OK, but local problems.

Oil supplies from the Persian Gulf backed up about 72 to 100 hours average. This includes empty tankers steaming to the Upper Gulf.

Significant civil disruption (roads, electrical distribution, water supply) that will likely get priority in first repairs.


Requests for Data

Cumulative Rainfall at Muscat Airport - Did they get their forecast 15 cm ?

Also, any other Omani airports.

Loadings in the Upper Persian Gulf ? Iraq, Kuwait, Kharg Island, Ras Tanura for the last few days and next few days.

This is a good indication of an interruption in the constant flow of oil.

Navigation in Arabian Sea and Straits of Hormuz ?

I suspect that traffic is back to normal at this hour (June 7 1628Z) but confirmation would be good.

Ships that cannot take 45 knot gusts and 14' seas (USN @ June 7 06Z) are not seaworthy but maybe "go slow" in narrow channels with unknown tides. Gonu is little more than a heavy squall at this point.

I have looked at a number of photos from Muscat. Minimal wind damage and some flooding with flash flood erosion at certain critical points.


Navigation in Arabian Sea and Straits of Hormuz ?

I suspect that traffic is back to normal at this hour (June 7 1628Z) but confirmation would be good.

The J Bennett Johnston was in the Gulf of Oman near the straight of Hormuz midday on June 5 and is now in the Arabian Sea according to

The J Bennett Johnston a double hull very large crude carrier (VLCC) with a capacity of 2.2 million barrels.

It must have traversed the Gulf of Oman despite Gonu.

It would appear that Gonu has not disrupted the flow of oil as much as some would like to think.

I don't agree its probably better to go forward than wait for the storm. If it was already in the strait.

You need ships that where loading or just loaded earlier and entered the straits after the storm entered the gulf.

Your example is probably not a good case either way.
I'm not sure they can even turn a VLCC around thats in the strait the shipping channel is very narrow.

I looked at the position of the J Bennett Johnson on June 5 13Z and retract the post below (still interesting so I left it). I thought that she was inside the PG on June 5th waiting.

On June 5 13Z she was 100 nm to the NE of Muscat in the Gulf of Oman and trying to ride out the storm. In 43 hours she traveled just 186 nautical miles (straight line).

She apparently transited the Straits of Hormuz on June 4th (or earlier) and then held position rather than retreat back through the straits (with some strong currents).

If one looks at the surge maps uniquely posted here, one will see the surge entered the PG. This means LOTS of water and strange currents. Thus retreat MAY have been cut off.

That water is now flowing back out of the PG and this may limit transits for a short time.

There would have been a short window with minimal currents in the Straits when the water had peaked into the PG but not yet started to ebb out. Some ships may have left then.


The distance from the reported position of the J Bennett Johnson to Bandar Abbas is 597 nautical miles.

At June 7 8Z she was 441 nautical miles from Gonu (location June 7 0Z per USN)

Assuming 20 knots (close to max for a fully laden VLCC I think) that is 29 hours since being at the apex of the Straits of Hormuz with a transit of Gonu perhaps 18 hours earlier.

This means an unplugging of the PG no later than Jun 6 14Z (with some fuzziness as to the exact hour).

However, she was in the same position heading in (167 nm delta) on May 24th. About 11 to 12 days in the Persian Gulf.

She spent less time in the PG last time that there is good data, but so many variables that comparison is unwarranted.

I think that we have a decent number for the unplugging of the Persian Gulf by Gonu. Now a date and time for "plugging" of the PG by Gonu ?

As I said before, a longer route along the northern edge of the Arabian Sea (Coasts of Iran, Pakistan and India) should have been open on June 3rd, and perhaps the 4th if ships did not fear a sudden northern turn by Gonu.


Got it :)
Ok sorry your first comment implied to me at least she was already committed. So now we are probably left with only a disturbance plus the direct effects of the storm. So I doubt that OPEC will take any extra measures to make up of the effects of this storm. But on the same hand Its not clear the effects will be strong enough to force KSA to make its position clearer since I'd not be surprised to see some other opec members take advantage of the higher prices.

Bummer I agree with you. So we must continue to wait. We can however watch oil prices and see if the disturbance is enough to raise the floor price. Say Brent above 70 into the fall.
So the question is can the oil market recover from even this fairly minor disturbance ?

"shortonoil" at has been tracking ship movements. He posted this this afternoon:

There are presently 4 tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the Teno that is in the Straights, the A8IE8 which must have hugged the coast through the storm and the Maersk Karachi and the Dynamic Vision, both hugging the coast between Musqat and the late Sur. The A8IE8 must have sailed through the hurricane to get to were she is, crazy mother!

There are no ships in the Persian Gulf, so it will be at least two days before any ships can reach a useable port there, and a day and a half out. That is about an additional 50 mb lost to the world.

The Copiapo and the J. Bennette Johnson which were in the entrance to the Gulf of Oman early yesterday, must have turned tail and ran. They are now in the Arbian Sea. The J. Bennette Johnson must have really poured on the steam to get to were she is. Of course, if I saw a CAT 5 coming at me, I’d run like hell too.

I guess he's not short on oil any more. :-D

okay, I am confused. If the Gulf exports 8 million barrels of oil a day, wouldn't that take four 2 million barrel tankers per day. Where are they?

Now lets see how OPEC and in particular KSA reacts to this event. My position is you won't see a drop of extra oil out of KSA although the other OPEC members could well break quota.

This is the sort of event that would warrant some sort of statement from KSA indicating at least token increases in oil shipments but if they are gaming for a 100bbl floor then doing nothing is the right move. They want that crack spread money.

With that said I don't have a good handle on how much oil has been delayed this would include say 10 days downtime for Oman.

And how this compares to world oil inventory. It would have to cause a good draw down IMHO. So my question is will it be made up or do we have a new floor price.

From Chuck Watson:

According to both the US GFS model and the UKMET model runs this morning, looks like the remnant low pressure system will hang out just off the Iranian coast until Saturday. As was pointed out earlier, 20-30kt winds and squalls aren't a problem for oceangoing vessels, HOWEVER, it will slow down traffic, especially around the straits and the approaches, depending on where the remnants are and how squally they are.

"The spice must flow", but maybe not very fast . . .

Anyone who cites Herbert has instant credibility with me. ;)

I guess we will never know but with this reference it makes me wonder if Dune was not modeled on oil ?

The correlation with the ME is obvious but I guess I missed the connection between spice and oil. I always thought it was cocaine with the source as a desert. I'd say its a mix of oil plus illicit drugs.

I guess we will never know

Or maybe we will....

Herbert wrote that he intended for melange in the Dune universe to mimic the role that petroleum plays in current human society, in the way that the elites of the 20th century were dependent upon the flow of petroleum for civilization to survive week after week. Following this line, Herbert wrote CHOAM to be the corporation with a monopoly on melange distribution, as a stronger version of OPEC, which can essentially set the price of oil today by means of its control over a large amount of the world's oil production.

(From Wikipedia, but I've heard it before from other sources, and I suspect so has Chuck.)

Some have even gone as far to say Herbert modelled Dune after the struggle between the Sunnis and Shiites.

No I think Dune is Arab city dwellers vs Bedouin natives.
But in any case off topic ?
I think its funny that even though I caught all this growing up under Reagan made me overlay on the drug war not oil.
I graduated high school in 1986 and had no perception of oil as anything important it just existed.

I know this is a bit off topic but I think its important to some extent since most of the people my age literally can't think of oil as important by default we have never seen a oil crisis that impacted supply at best gasoline is a tad expensive. This was my view point before I stumbled on peak oil. And now everyone knows how old I am :)

I believe the source was Herbert himself, writing in the afterword of one of the many republications of Dune.

That's what I had read somewhere, that spice=oil. I sent this little story to PG, and seeing these posts figured I'd repeat it here.

I read Dune the first time while on detached duty to the State Department (was USAF/DIA) while serving in the sandbox in the late 80's. It was a surreal experience sitting on a balcony in the Saudi Royal Conference Palace, evening call to prayer drifting through the air, reading Dune and watching the sun set over the sand . . .

Re: "The spice must flow"

Or as Bill O'Reilly puts it, "The folks gotta have gas."

Bill O'Reilly takes credit for lower gasoline prices in late 2005:

BTW, I wonder if Gonu might be a sign of things to come for the Arabian Sea this cyclone/typhoon/hurricane season?

"fear is the mind killer"

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

Love that quote...

and this from Black Dog...

From some of the pictures posted on:

It looks like just about anything crossing a (usually) dry river channel might be history. Roads, bridges, pipelines, fiber optics, etc. Here are a few pictures:

The desalination plants appear to be down too.

E. Swanson

IR Satellite imagery of Gonu making direct hit on Oil terminal at Mina al Fahal

Video shot around 1PM June 6 local time.
Qurm Beach starts about 3 miles northwest of the Oil Terminal at Mina al Fahal and extends for a little over 5 miles.

Where this video was shot. Left is Qurm Beach. Extreme right is Oil Terminal at Mina al Fahal. Bridge at end of video is at right end of Qurm Beach Road. Zoom in to see.,58.485031&spn=0.071868,0.1157&t...

So, panic over?

I like TOD because it is sober and fact-based, and it's conclusions mostly credible. There are plenty of sites like LATOC and that cater for the doomers, who panic on every little scrap of potentially bad news. Unfortunately, for the people who see "Peakers" only as scare-mongerers, this sort of flap is a gift.

I really need a site I can point people at, that doesn't cause them to come back and tell me they're worried I've joined an "End of the World" cult.

I really need a site I can point people at, that doesn't cause them to come back and tell me they're worried I've joined an "End of the World" cult.

Be careful what you ask for...


We have cornucopians, they have Gerbilcopians!

I have felt many things while reading TOD, but this is the first time I've wanted to throw up.

A terrible thing to do to us!

I really need a site I can point people at, that doesn't cause them to come back and tell me they're worried I've joined an "End of the World" cult.

Try WorldChanging. We get people at who have been kicked out of WorldChanging. I gather they don't like Doomers there, and tell them to go to instead.

I think a re-examination of ones own biases is in order at this point for most if not all of us here. couldn't agree more Bob.


Boris, your suggestion has some validity. But I believe the attention paid to Gonu was appropriate.

Please consider my life experience:

1960's a hurricane did substantial damage to my home in Mississippi (I was a kid; not sure it was Donna)

1962 Andrew, power out for a week

2005 Katrina's eye passed right over my house on its way to NO

2005 Wilma did $23,000 in damage to my house, power out a month (this is an on-the-grid house, no PV or generator.) Gas lines, no food at grocery stores initially, etc. Good practice for the downslope, actually.

I know from experience that a hurricane is not a masturbatory fantasy. The Precautionary Principal will be observed by prudent persons.

Errol in Miami

I agree there was grounds to monitor the situation..and still is..

but there was a lot of irrational talk about buying into the "Gonu spinning wheel of doom" as one astute poster pointed out.

the justification for concern was valid, the premature speculation and insistence that a mega-catastrophe/oil price spike..etc was imminent, just damaged the sites/communtiy's credibility.

I was shocked to realise the Haarp comments were not universally some-sort of joke...

trawl back through that lot... I think its important we learn the lesson and admit culpability to ourselves.

even more damaging is the possibility that the storm WILL effect oil flows but with a delayed effect..perhaps. we are not omniscient.

the effects of resource depletion PO etc are not likely to manifest themselves in short discrete obvious hollywood episodes..that is why it is truly dangerous. It is a incrementally evolving state of affairs.


So you want to ban people from the site who don't think like you? No? Then what do you propose? Sure, lots of the off-the-wall comments are really way off-the-wall but so what? If you are so stupid as to judge the main post by the comments it receives from an open comment system then you deserve whatever boos and catcalls your shortsighted stupidity gets you.

As for the comments themselves, they are no crazier than the crap I see at various Republican or Democrat campaign websites as open comments. Does that make every one of the candidates an idiot by association? I see stupid comments in response to the WSJ Energy Blog too. Does that make the WSJ Energy Blog moronic?

Grow the hell up or shut up and go away. If you are not intelligent enough to sift through the comments, then you don't belong here. Are my comments harsh? Yes, because what you and others propose is no less than massive censorship. I'd rather laugh at the latest conspiracy fantasy than shut that poster up. And if someone else wants to agree with that poster then they are free to do so which tells the rest of us a great deal about that person.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

I don't want to ban anybody.. i hope people mull over the lessons to be learnt here.

I would hope red on blue, democrat vs re[publican style debates is something we would avoid here..or any polarity style debate.

just because the "other side" is clearly wrong to ones thinking DOES NOT MEAN ones own thinking is correct by default (except logically so IYSWIM)
there is no need for censorship... the post mortum just includes an examination of this issue so we can progress...advance our understanding

it is hard to be constructively critical and not seem judgmental especially if one get a emotional stake in the issue (the sub issue raised by Bob).

what bench mark do we need to aim for?

TOD must be attracting more readers now so one would expect the range of opinions to include more whacked out ideas..but does greater appeal and community size mean we must surrender to a dilution of rigor and rationality?

..I say not.

I find my position had evolved over time... largely as a result of the interface between "reality/news" and the debate that preceded/follows it...

I think it is a useful exercise to examine ones bias and the current zietgiest here...

what's more i suspect everyone will do irrespective of any posted intervention.

reassessment, reappraisal...revisit.. there is a time and a place,.. now looks like such a time


I was shocked to realise the Haarp comments were not universally some-sort of joke...

Then I guess you don't come here very often.

We get comments like that almost every day. Why should it be different in the Gonu threads?

Yea, right Mr. Conucopian. My blinders are off. How 'bout yours.

Bob, I will respond only to say this:

The approach taken in the way I set up our threads was very measured and very empirical in nature. I reported and I linked. Pretty simple really. How else would one have covered a hurricane?

What people did with it after that is an artifact of our format--but that format also allowed for the collection of a LOT of information that no one else had in one place. Seems worth it to me.

They call it Web 2.0. It's interactive, and it works. We accumulated resources like no one else, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

And finally, in my opinion, this is no cult--this is a set of individuals with different perspectives trying to figure out what the heck is actually going on.

For my part, I think the TOD coverage of the storm was outstanding.

I followed each of the threads, and have read 99% of the comments. With the exception of the weather control and starting a war in the middle of the storm stuff, I thought it was not in any way over the top. Perhaps a bit heated at times.

We are a community here, and that means a diversity of points of view. There are doomers, and those who are not doomers YET and those who will deny the DOOM until the DOOM is upon them.

(insert smiley emoticon here)

I'd agree. This was for the most part a very informative, disciplined simulation of an actual weather-induced oil emergency, a completely valid exercise in advance of a potentially active hurricane season.

BTW, for those of you not "In the know," PG is the head a vast global hedge fund conspiracy that is trying to drive up the price of oil.

Kind of funny though. I would have thought that if one were truly trying to drive the price up, one would not warn about Peak Oil.

If one truly wanted to drive the price of oil up, it seems to me that one would constantly talk about Peak Oil not being a problem for decades, with an indefinite "plateau" the worst case scenario, thereby encouraging energy consumption and the SUV/suburban way of life.

But what do I know. I have been informed by "reliable sources" that Boone Pickens, Richard Rainwater and Matt Simmons are just PG's "Puppets on a string."

"and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those darned kids..."


Prof Goose, your politeness is charming.

Bob, go Cheney yourself.

Don't get too worked up about old Bob, he comes across as all knowing but he wouldn't be here if he liked which way the wind is blowing.
As for the "panic" being over, the damn storm just just made it out to sea yesterday! Wait for the damage reports.

At the poster NervousRex noted that:

This event seems like a perfect Dirac impulse for measuring the oil transfer function for shipping out of the Gulf.

Perhaps we can also say:

This event seems like a perfect Dirac impulse for analysing the psychology of the more active members of the Peak Oil community.


In retrospect I think the most insightful commentary was by Nate Hagens in the second thread:

So far, this cyclone discussion has been a good illustration of our belief systems. It seems that people strongly believing that Peak oil will be a life changing event are quick to believe that the world oil industry will undergo a crisis, while people that dismiss peak oil (mostly those I talked to yesterday) think this cyclone is being sensationalized and the damage, at least to the world system, will be small.

In particular many commentors noticed the discrepancy between the strong concerns expressed here and the seeming indifference of oil futures markets. As hummingbird posted, "It will be interesting to see who is proven right. I vote for our group here at TOD." It's too early to know for sure, but at this point it at least seems possible that the markets were right and there will not be significant supply disruptions. I guess we'll know more in the next few weeks.

You're exactly right Halfin. This may have been an exercise in mental masturbation. :)

I guess the point I keep going back to is that it could (and may still, as you say) have mattered--quite a bit. It was definitely newsworthy and germane.

Fair point Halfin, but it works both ways.

On Friday 26th August 2005, pro mets and amateurs on various weather forums across the U.S. were vociferously warning of the dangers posed by a certain hurricane named Katrina that was strengthening considerably after entering the GoM. They were particularly concerned about one possible track that suggested a direct hit on New Orleans.

The Nymex traders have access to the best info that's out there. They had full notice of the threat. They yawned.

Check your charts to see what happened to WTI and gasoline prices that Friday...and what happened to those prices the following week.

IIRC Katrina changed course just after the markets closed on Friday (or maybe that was Rita). The traders had to bite their nails until Monday. Lots of pent-up trades.

I remember thinking "WTF!" as WTI price fell $2 that Friday night. "Didn't anyone see what was coming?"

...and there it goes again this friday. Down $2.

Brent prices are what matter for this event lets see if they stay down after we get a full assessment of the situation of the next several weeks. I think the people claiming this was a non event are mistaken it will take time for the effects to propagate. It will be six to eight weeks at least before we have a good understanding of how much strain this one event has put on the oil market. The disruption will cause a stock draw down thats simple the key is how much it will cost to replenish stocks several months from now.

The bummer is we may get whacked with a hurricane or other above ground factor before we can get a clear signal out of this one. So hopefully things will remain calm for a few months but I don't think so.

Also this could readily result in a bit of a gasoline import crunch for America in a few months which is not a good thing. A couple of million barrels of gasoline imports not making it is enough to cause problems in the US.

If things stay calm enough we should see a steady rise in the price of Brent over 70 and a increase in gasoline price in the US because of additional import costs even if stock levels are not that low.
The only reason any of this will not happen is if stock draw downs and oil imports can be smoothed over the next few months without anyone running low. So basically someone has to run low a bit but not over react.

All that has to happen is Japan or China or the EU etc etc run low at the same time and we get a serious bidding war.
It will happen.

It was Katrina. 10 PM Friday was the first time that there was more than a single digit risk to New Orleans (6% from memory on the prior update). The eye reformed and the path altered dramatically after crossing Florida. Just about the worst possible time to put up the alert.

I sent out a mass eMail and called a series of people (waking some up). Note: I interpret risk and time to evacuate for a number of people.

In other hurricanes, I said that "There is a 10% chance (or 25% chance, etc.) you will not want to be in New Orleans" due to power outages, limited food & services, etc.

After 10 PM Friday, I said that you need to evacuate. "There is only a 10% chance you want to stay home" was my message. By Sunday morning I was begging one last friend to pack & go (he evaced at the last minute, 12 hours of stop & go).

But I never expected the massive failure by the US Army Corps of Engineers and our "Federal Flood".

Best Hopes but hard to feel to sorry for the oil traders,


PS: I took 3 people without cars out with me in my old M-B 240D. I would have taken a 4th and left some luggage if I had known.

I remember that Friday eve. I pulled up a WX map, took a look, and thought to myself "better start paying more attention to that one." I had a fresh memory of Frances & Ivan, both of those had cut across FL, intensified, hooked around into the Gulf coast, and then punched their way up into our mountains. Frances gave us 18" in 24 hrs and flooded my basement; our town almost had a dam failure. Ivan gave us no power or water for the better part of a week. Could have happend again if Katrina had hooked around a little more. Sorry you folks in NOLA took the hit instead.

The latest from Sleepless in Muscat does not paint a good picture there:

There has still been no reports about Sur but as they say 'No news is good news'.

I beg to differ from Sleepless here. No news would be very frightening. Not only Katrina, also Aceh after the 2004 tsunami. ¿Does anyone have any news from Sur?

Oman death toll has increased to 20. Still three for Iran. I still don't see any explicit mention of conditions in Sur.

THURSDAY, JUNE 07, 2007 8:29 GMT

At least 20 people have been killed in Oman by cyclone Gonu before the ferocious storm moved towards Iran, caused three more deaths and widespread panic forcing thousands to flee homes.

At least 20 people died in the cyclone, including members of rescue squads, and 24 were reported missing, said Abdullah al-Harthi, Oman police spokesman.

Three people were killed in Iran's southern port of Bandar-e Jask when a river overflowing as a result of Cyclone Gonu caused their vehicle to overturn.

Officials said that over 40,000 people had been evacuated from coastal areas in the southern Sistan-Baluchestan and Hormozgan provinces to safer places.

More fresh news...25 dead.

8 June 2007

An Omani relief official said 25 people were confirmed killed by the storm, which turned the streets of the capital Muscat into rivers, flipping over cars, uprooting trees and severing electricity and telephone lines. At least 26 people are missing.

State media said roads and houses in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan had been damaged and many coastal areas were cut off by flooding. “All governmental offices are on alert and rescue teams have been dispatched to various parts of the province,” Mohammad Akbar Chakerzehi, governor of Nikshahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province told the ISNA news agency. “Connections between over 500 villages and Nikshahr city have been cut and many houses in villages are badly damaged.”

Mina Al-Fahal, the only terminal for Oman’s 650,000-barrels-per-day crude exports, remained closed for a third day and the main liquefied natural gas terminal at Sur, which was badly hit, was not operating either, a shipper said. The Sur terminal handles 10 million tons per year of LNG. But there were no reports so far of serious damage to Oman’s Mina Al-Fahal refinery or other oil facilities, port, shipping and oil company sources said. The Sohar refinery and port were back to normal yesterday, the company said.

There was speculation on prevous comment threads that when the hurricane met the mountains of Oman there who be very heavy rain leading to mudslides and catastrophic flooding. The pictures coming out of Muscat tend to confirm that this did take place. When similar conditions have occured in the Carribean the death toll has been in the thousands. The picture of the McDonalds shows water at least 10 ft deep and that is enough to drown people in single story dwellings and sweep shanty towns out to sea. In Oman many of the buildings appear to be multi-story or even high rises, so people could escape drowning by evacuating vertically. Hence the death toll may not be as bad as you would expect elsewhere, however it is probably large.

In many disasters the most damaged areas just drop off the grid and the MSM interprets the absence of news as a sign that everything is OK. The day after Hurricane Andrew destroyed parts of South Florida the media was showing pictures of undamaged areas and sending the message that the storm didn't do much damage. It was several days before pictures of destroyed buildings hit the TV screen. The day after Katrina the media again sent the message that the damage wasn't that bad and suggested that all that had to be done was to clean up the fallen tree branches around the hotels. Once again, it took a few days for pictures of flooded streets to emerge and reveal that Katrina was one of the worst disasters in American history.

One lesson is that a lack of communication or news from a region can be a sign of very bad things. Certain parts of Oman have not been heard from and what has come out on the blogs seems to show a major disaster with widespread damage to infrastructure.

What does this mean for energy? In New Orleans the refineries did much better than the people or the houses. The oil and gas terminals probably are not destroyed but might be out of service for a few months. If they are damaged then it will probably send oil prices up by 5-10$/bbl.

Gonu may be an example of what climate change will mean as regions have to cope with weather which they have never had to deal with in the past. It is the kind of unpredictable consequence of global warming which could make it a much more expensive problem than anybody now predicts.

You are correct about 36 hours ago I commented that in 36 hours we would start hearing of a very dire situation in Oman. Sur has not yet been heard from. Water and food are in scarce supply. Desalination plants are out. 25 deaths so far. Road transport is in short supply. 175 mm of rain in Muscat. Who knows how much was at higher elevations of the mountains. Road network for re-supply is very degraded.

Road network for re-supply is very degraded.

Some good photos here:

Cyclone damages Muscat roads

Let's see if I can embed one...

Again, this is Muscat, which was not hit as heavily.

Again, this is Muscat, which was not hit as heavily.

I've been following the discussion over at the omanforum and there is still no word from Sur.

Found this about Sur

An Omani military column has managed to reach Sur on Thursday and more information on the extent of the damage is now likely to emerge.

India seems to be mostly concerned about some fertilizer project they have going in Oman.

The oil-centric focus of most media coverage of this event really seems to have contributed to something the Oman forums have mentioned -- virtually the entire western response to the hurricane has been: "Oil should be fine or minorly affected". In the mean time the Omani government is just now finally admitting that it needs technical assistance from citizens and expats living in the sultanate, many water systems are down with no prospect of moving heavy equipement to fix it (and no way to haul the replacement parts from the port to where they are needed), and there are still chunks of the capital, let alone the rest of the country, from which no news has made it out in any form!

Until there is good confirmation that there is no humanitarian crisis unfolding and that the area between Sur and AQ is okay it is incumbent on us to continue trying to get people to pay attention in some way. If it takes convincing them that their gas may get more expensive if we don't help, so be it -- but that isn't the largest story here now that events have unfolded such that the Straits aren't blocked for days on end.

It was actually the media focus on oil that lead me to The Oil Drum during Gonu. The analysis here tends to lean much more towards a systems view rather than headline posting or hyper-focus on pressure and windspeed numbers. In the end, the system response to events like this is so important to study, because on the time scale of many earth processes we're just now entering an era I expect to last for a very long time, which is to say an era of much, much higher population density and greatly reduced local self-suffiency relative to the last time a 100, 500, or 1000 year storm/landslide/earthquake/other infrequent event ocurred at a given locality. Because of this, each time an unusual event interacts with the stuff we've piled on top of the ground it's vital to try to really understand what's going on and disseminate what we learn as much as possible.

BG, I think I like you. :)

And yes, I planned on putting up a link to some place to contribute to these folks' suffering tomorrow on the front page. They are enduring a hell right now that no one should.

Hello BostonGeologist,

Well said. I greatly appreciated your GONU postings, pictures, and geological surface vs weather analysis. If the GoM fires up--I hope you can be a regular contributor on TOD.

I was sad to see the photo upthread of the two vehicles entering a flooded wash with the front-loader in the background. I hope the people lived. Recall my earlier post whereby I speculated that many Omanis had no conception of what a heavy rainfall in a desert can do. Sadly, I think the death toll will be mostly from the downhill floods, not the uphill hurricane surge.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I agree with your observations! The western media appears mainly interested in saying "our oil supply is just fine and dandy" while media in the far east (where I stay) didn't even bother to report this news. Where Sur is concerned, I fear that no news is bad news.

According to Oman blogs, 1,800 people were evacuated from Sur before the storm passed. A military column reached Sur yesterday (faster than our military could get to the Convention Center on perfect dry roads BTW) and reported no deaths but "much significant damage". Ship with additional supplies planned.

Overall 32 dead, 30 missing so far. Some police lost their lives in rescue efforts. Water in Muscat out 6 to 8 days and water is being trucked in. Some water being sold to highest bidder and others at very high prices.

The Omanis do not talk about the oil terminal, and I am not going to ask.


Thank you Sir!

Another update from Omani blogs.

Main desalination plant in Muscat is down due to natural gas pipeline break. Operating at 20% capacity with diesel fuel and also started up reserve water wells. Perhaps half of normal demand available and water is being rotated around the city.

Food supply disrupted but non-perishable food available with limited selection in stores. Food and water shipments to outlying areas.

Free water is being given to private tankers on condition that they distribute it free, get a signed receipt and the government will pay them.

Electricity and telecommunications are coming back quickly (self selection bias possible for internet posters, but good reports all around) and minimally passable roads are being opened (4WD recommended on many).


Gonu is a Hindi Name, I knew that 'bag of palm fronds' BS was way off base. And they repeated it over and over again worldwide. Gonu Jha is a popular character is Hindi folk stories.

Gonu "caused no disruption of shipping" (UAE).

Omani oil terminal expected to reopen Friday.

Sohar port currently open.

The LNG facility is in a heavily damaged region.

Flood waters have abated. Flat areas suffered little erosion compared to mountainous areas.

Belief differs from guesswork. Many people will assume what they have not proven as true.

FRIDAY, JUNE 08, 2007 8:20 GMT

Oman has started carrying out tests on pipelines in Mina al Fahal, the country's only terminal for its 650,000 barrels per day crude exports, after a three-day closure due to the Cyclone, according to a shipping source.

"They are carrying out tests for pipelines to see if they are in order, to check if they could start operating again," he said.

Petroleum Development Oman, a major state-owned firm, said on Thursday that operations and facilities had escaped damage.

From Gulf News:

Shipping and port sources said on Wednesday that operations had continued without disruption through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a major channel for oil shipments from the Gulf, source of a third of the world's sea-borne oil supplies

I could believe that this is true. The navigation blockage occurred in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. The J Bennett Johnson was held up till late on June 6th 100 nautical miles NE of Muscat, and probably would have preferred to be somewhere else.

Note: The JBJ apparently entered the Persian Gulf on May 25th from prior position. It is little more than 1 days steaming from the Straits of Hormuz to Kuwait, Iraq and Kharg Island.

Apparently currents in and out of the Gulf were not a threat to navigation.


From an on the ground observer on another forum.

"Thanks for the good wishes, Typhoon Hunter - Gonu has been one wild ride out here in Oman. Didn't get as far as Sur in the end - roads starting getting just a little wet (flash floods etc) around Ibra (half way between Muscat and Sur, a little inland) where we got sensible and stopped. Back in Muscat finally, luckily everyone I know seems well but not all were so lucky.

Most of the rain hit the Eastern (coastal) side of the Hajar mountains as I understand, and as a couple of people pointed out earlier, the towns along that coastline are mostly built in or alongside wadis (riverbeds) in small coves between the mountains and the sea and are very vulnerable. I haven't heard anything from towns such as Qurayat or Yitti but they could be in a bad way right now: they're certainly not accessible by road, we're just waiting and hoping those down there are OK."

From Reuters:

Oman's Mina al Fahal oil terminal resumed operations after a three-day closure after tests on the pipes. Petroleum Development Oman said on Thursday that operations and facilities had escaped damage.

PDO, a majority state-owned firm, produces most of Oman's crude. PDO expects its output to decline by around 20,000 bpd this year to between 560,000 and 570,000.

The main liquefied natural gas terminal at Sur, which was badly hit, was not operating, a shipper said. Sur terminal handles 10 million tonnes per year of LNG.

Sohar refinery and port reopened and these facilities were working as well as before the storm, the company said.

If that is accurate, Mina al Fahal was only closed for three days. Sounds like the Sur LNG terminal was much harder hit.

How much gas is associated with oil prod?That might affect how much oil they will produce,it they don't fare the gas.

Praemonitus, Praemunitus.

Thanks to The Oil Drum and the super-cogitator contributors for the Gonu Coverage. Assessing the potential destruction and chain reaction events was a valuable topic. On top of everything else, we may never know if someone in the path of Gonu, tuned in and decided it was a perfect moment for retreat. Perhaps next time we ‘pass the hat’ and send a TOD team on-location. Thanks especially to Prof. Goose. Quid clarius astris urbi et orbi? …the spice.

Hello TODers,

As predicted by me earlier: physically manhandling jugs of water and fuel in the hot & humid desert of Oman:
Taps go dry in Muscat
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I would take all news reports coming from the Middle East with a big grain of salt.

The statment that the such and such center is now reopened is a wide open statement. It might even be a model, but it does not mean that the oil facility is working properly.

I can have a store demolished and say that its Open. I can do some things, but not all.

The Arab culture is not like ours. When they make statements the white man likes to take them on their "face". This is not the way of the Arab culture imo. The statement when fully examined will be full of holes and maybe only hold a "partial" truth. The facility may be "open", but functioning is a different word.

We are also told that there is such and such oil left, and much more by this same culture, yet is that oil really there. Is this statement from a "model" they built that is based on premises that could only exist in a reality that could only exist in a perfect stream of events that defy all odds.

You can only tell what the truth is by first hand direct knowledge., and even then being human, you can be mistaken.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

Does anybody have any solid info on that status of the Mina al Fahal oil terminal (not the refinery, the tanker loading facilities)? As near as I can tell the news reports are based on a single third party source and are conflicting. From a model validation standpoint, I'd like to know when they start moving product at resonably normal levels. That information is surprisingly hard to come by some times. Phrases like "Open" and "undergoing testing" make me suspicious it isn't actually operating normally yet.
Thanks! -- Chuck Watson